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Probation officials recommend prison time in Oakmont road-rage case

Probation officials are recommending prison time for an 82-year-old Santa Rosa man who chased a cyclist onto a golf course in his car and ran into him in what's been described as a case of road rage.

A pre-sentencing report for Oakmont resident Harry E. Smith, who hit Toraj Soltani last summer, calls for the Korean War veteran to spend six years and eight months behind bars.

That's two years less than the maximum possible punishment. He's also eligible for probation.

Harry E. Smith In Court

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Smith appeared in court Friday for a sentencing hearing that was ultimately postponed. The white-haired man listened to proceedings with a court-supplied hearing device before leaving the court with his two daughters.

His lawyer, Charles Dresow, said he was diagnosed by a doctor as suffering frontal temporal dementia, which can affect his ability to control impulsive behavior or respond to stresses.

At a new sentencing set for May 31, Dresow will ask Judge Ken Gnoss to consider placing Smith on probation for a period along with other possible restrictions such as electronic home confinement.

"Placement in a controlled and supervised medical environment is more appropriate than prison in this case given Mr. Smith's age, prior service to his country, mental condition and ill health," Dresow said.

He intends to forfeit his driving privilege, Dresow said. His license is currently suspended.

The request for probation instead of jail time is supported by Soltani, who suffered a serious wrist injury but is recovering, his lawyer said Friday.

Soltani settled a civil lawsuit with Smith; the terms are undisclosed.


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