Santa Rosa man who ran down cyclist sentenced to dementia facility

An 82-year-old Santa Rosa man who rammed a cyclist with his car after chasing him onto a golf course was sentenced Tuesday to spend the next five years in a secure facility specializing in dementia treatment.

Harry E. Smith will serve his time in the Clare Bridge program at The Lodge at Paulin Creek on Range Avenue in Santa Rosa instead of going to state prison for more than six and a half years.

Judge Ken Gnoss based his sentence on testimony from a doctor who said Smith was suffering frontotemporal dementia when he struck Toraj Soltani, 48, during the road-rage incident in the Oakmont retirement community on Aug. 15.

Harry E. Smith In Court


Gnoss also said Smith's age and lack of a criminal record were factors. At the request of prosecutors, he ordered the Korean War veteran to wear an electronic ankle bracelet for the duration of his stay and said he can't drive a car.

"Your conduct was very egregious to the court because in Sonoma County you have to cooperate and be careful of bicycles," Gnoss said from the bench.

Smith, who listened through a court-supplied hearing device, promised to abide by the terms. He had already checked into the facility and appeared in court with family members at his side.

He left the courthouse without making a comment.

"It's a fair and just result," said his lawyer, Charles Dresow. "It's the right place for Mr. Smith."

A lawyer for the victim's family agreed. Brendan Kunkle said the sentence was what Soltani and his family "expected and wished for."

Prosecutor Barbara Nanney also said the sentence was "just." She requested Smith be sent to prison if he violates the terms of his probation.

© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View