Judge, family have harsh words for man sentenced in hit-and run death of Wayne County sergeant
WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. (FOX 2) - A man who pleaded guilty to several charges related to the hit-and-run death of a Wayne County deputy will spend at least 4 years in prison - but will have the words of his family and the judge ringing in his ears.
Tuesdays will always be painful for the family of Lee Smith - and all started with a joyful Tuesday.
The Wayne County Sheriff's Sergeant was hit and killed on Tuesday, August 14th by Desmond Robinson.
Lee had spent 26 years on the force and finally decided to retire - on Tuesday, August 7th. His wife, Simone Smith, detailed how quickly their hopes and dreams were taken away in the course of a week.
"We walked into the Wayne County Sheriff retirement office and signed those papers. Then one week later, on Tuesday, August 14th, our dreams came to an abrupt end," Simone said.
Simone was joined by Lee's brother, John Smith, on another Tuesday - this time in a Wayne County courtroom where Robinson was sentenced. Both confronted the 47-year-old who admitted to killing Lee as the 55-year-old was out for a jog.
"I called Lee at 9 o'clock that Tuesday, our normal time and he didn't pick up. He was dead at about 10:15," John said. "I can see Lee right now jogging and saying stop, you see me, stop - that instant...he was gone."
"I must start this new journey of my life without him by my side, because of your carelessness," said Simone.
Lee was along Hines Drive near Middlebelt when Robinson slammed into him and then drove off. Police said Robinson even tried to repair his damaged SUV before later being arrested.
"Whatever condition he was in at that moment, we don't know because he decided to flee the scene of the accident," John said.
A Good Samaritan saw Sgt. Smith get hit. He jumped out of the car and tried to resuscitate him, while his friend stayed in their car and drove after the Buick. He eventually lost sight of the car, though, and the driver got away.
Robinson pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving, failing to stop, and tampering with evidence. Nine months later, he apologized in court to Lee's family.
"This was truly an accident and this was done with no malicious intent. I had a medical condition and that's why things happened the way they did," he said.
But the judge reminded him that no medical condition forced him to destroy and cover up evidence...
"To me, that was an act of a coward and someone who was afraid to take responsibility," the judge said.
Robinson was given 4 1/2 to 15 years in prison and credit for 201 days served.
John said he's going to use brother's tragedy as a movement to bring stricter penalties for hit-and-run drivers because he says, right now, they're getting away with murder.
"Until the day I die, I'll never give up this fight on pursuing tougher penalties because it's a joke."