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Man in Oakmont road-rage case to move into secure dementia care facility

An elderly Santa Rosa man who chased a cyclist onto the Oakmont golf course in his car and struck him will move into a secure dementia care unit in hopes of avoiding prison.

Harry E. Smith, 82, could face a state prison sentence of more than 6 1/2 years when he is sentenced July 9 for the Aug. 16 assault on Santa Rosa restaurateur Toraj Soltani.

But his attorney, Charles Dresow, told a Sonoma County judge on Friday that Smith has been accepted into the new memory care unit at The Lodge at Paulin Creek in Santa Rosa. Dresow said his client, who has frontotemporal dementia, would like to move in now and have the county Probation Department evaluate the arrangement.

In addition to residing in a locked facility designed to prevent dementia patients from wandering, Smith would be required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, attorneys said.

Judge Ken Gnoss said he would take the proposal under consideration but made no promises about how he would rule next month.

Smith, a Santa Rosa resident, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury, leaving the scene of the crash and driving on a suspended license.

Authorities said he first accosted Soltani on Pythian Road, bumped him with his car and chased him when Soltani broke his side mirror.

The pursuit took them onto the golf course, where Smith bumped the bike's rear tire and knocked Soltani off before driving away. Soltani, who runs Mac's deli in downtown Santa Rosa, suffered a serious wrist injury.

Smith was later tracked down and arrested when another cyclist who kept the license plate number of a motorist who had threatened her learned of Soltani's experience and came forward to police.

Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney has said she thinks Smith's conduct warrants prison time but on Friday did not object to Dresow's proposal. Attorneys will argue the case July 9.


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