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Driver charged in Oakmont road-rage case wants trial moved

The Santa Rosa man charged with ramming a bicyclist after chasing him onto a golf course in an apparent case of road rage filed papers Thursday asking for the trial to be moved out of Sonoma County.

Harry E. Smith, 82, is charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and hit-and-run driving in the Aug. 16 crash that injured Toraj Soltani, 48, of Santa Rosa.

Smith's lawyer, Charles Dresow, said publicity surrounding the case has tainted the jury pool and will prevent Smith from receiving a fair trial.

His 46-page motion describes a “tortured relationship” between cyclists and drivers after a series of recent crashes. He said jurors will be unable to separate the facts of Smith's case from their emotions about the issue.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch said her office will oppose a change of venue at a Jan. 17 hearing.

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