A 27-year-old driver who was high on medical marijuana when he struck and killed a bicyclist on Northeast Lombard Street last December — then fled the scene — will be sentenced to more than six years in prison later this month.
During a hearing Wednesday, Kenneth Britt Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and hit-and-run driving that left 38-year-old Martin Greenough dead on the pavement next to his crumpled bicycle at about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 2015.
Smith’s sentencing hearing has been delayed until later this month, to allow Greenough’s out-of-state relatives of to attend.
Smith’s plea deal calls for six years and three months in prison, with no opportunity for time off for good behavior. As one of Smith’s loved ones cried in the courtroom gallery, Smith told Multnomah County Circuit Judge Michael Greenlick he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get a 20 percent reduction for behaving well in prison.
“I worked so hard to show that I’m not that person,” Smith said. “I’m sitting here suffering like I’m a second-time offender or someone who has been in trouble multiple times.”
Smith had no prior criminal history.
Authorities say he was driving a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria at about 45 mph. Greenough was pedaling home from work, had a rear red flashing bike light and was wearing a helmet when Smith struck him along a 200-foot section of Northeast Lombard Street that doesn’t contain a bike lane because the road narrows to travel under the Northeast 42nd Avenue overpass, investigators say.
Smith drove away and was arrested eight minutes later, about three miles away.
Authorities say Smith smelled of burnt marijuana, moved slowly and had bloodshot eyes and droopy eyelids. Smith told investigators he had smoked pot about 61/2 hours earlier — and that at the time of the crash, he had veered to the right to avoid another car that had swerved at him.
A drug recognition expert who examined Smith determined he was under the influence.
Smith told police he has a medical marijuana card.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Smith’s 16-year-old foster son had been a passenger and sleeping at the time of the crash when a loud “boom” from the windshield jolted him awake. Investigators believe Greenough, upon impact, rolled onto the hood of the Crown Victoria.
Four months after the fatal crash, the dead cyclist’s family filed a $3.6 million lawsuit against Smith for driving while high — as well as the city of Portland and the state of Oregon for road design the family says puts cyclists in grave danger.
The suit faults the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation for failing to take sufficient action to improve the so-called “pinch point” on Northeast Lombard Street — where the bicycle lane disappears because of the narrowing roadway.
Jim Rice, a deputy city attorney, spoke briefly at Wednesday’s hearing. He said Smith had no automotive insurance.
— Aimee Green