An 82-year old Santa Rosa man charged with running down a bicyclist in his car on a golf course pathway settled his case Friday with a plea bargain carrying a maximum eight-year prison sentence.
Harry E. Smith pleaded no contest to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash and driving with a suspended license in the August 16 road-rage incident at the Oakmont retirement community.
After receiving a detailed report on Smith's mental health, prosecutor Barbara Nanney agreed to drop charges of attempted murder and making criminal threats.
She would not disclose details, but Smith's lawyer, Charles Dresow, said the Korean War veteran suffers a condition "many seniors face."
"Mr. Smith is a good man who lived a good life," Dresow said. "Unfortunately, this has happened to him at the end of his years."
Smith could have been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison if convicted at trial.
The cyclist, Santa Rosa restaurant owner Toraj Soltani, 48, wasn't in court.
His lawyer, Brendan Kunckle, said he recovered from a broken wrist and other injuries. Soltani, the owner of Mac's Deli on Fourth Street, agreed to the terms of the plea bargain, his lawyer said.
A civil lawsuit against Smith seeking $140,000 in medical bills has been settled, he said. He would not disclose the terms.
In court Friday, the white-haired Smith listened through a special hearing device as Judge Ken Gnoss explained the charges, which include three felonies. He could receive anything from probation to eight years and four months in prison when he's sentenced May 3, his lawyer said.
Gnoss warned Smith he is not allowed to drive without a valid license and said he could not contact the victim.
"I understand completely, your honor," Smith said.
Smith was driving his car last summer when he confronted Soltani on Pythian Road. Smith yelled at Soltani to keep his hands on the bars of his bicycle and told him to get out of the neighborhood, according testimony at a preliminary hearing.
Smith then bumped Soltani with his car, causing him to wobble but not fall. Soltani swung a fist at the car, breaking a side mirror from its mounting, the cyclist said.
Soltani tried to ride away but Smith chased him through the neighborhood. When Soltani rode onto a golf course cart path, Smith followed him in his car, running into Soltani's back wheel and knocking him down.
Smith fled and witnesses called an ambulance. Smith was arrested after a tip from another cyclist who said she had a similar experience with him.
Smith was a suspect in two road-rage incidents in the past year and was convicted of reckless driving with alcohol in 2006.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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