Sunday | December 11, 2016
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Fatal 2010 S. Kona crash nets man 15-year prison term

A 28-year-old Ocean View man will serve a maximum 15 years in prison for a 2010 drunken driving crash that killed a 31-year-old Kealakekua woman and injured two others.

Robert William Smith Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to serve consecutively up to 10 years in prison for first-degree negligent homicide and up to five years in prison for habitually operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant in connection with the Aug. 1, 2010, crash that killed Stella Corona. 3rd Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra also ordered Smith to serve concurrently up to five years in prison for two counts of first-degree negligent injury.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine Smith’s actual sentence term during a future hearing, however, Ibarra said he will receive credit for time already served. Ibarra also ordered during his adjudication that Smith pay $2,775 in fees, fines and restitution.

“I miss her every day of my life and I always will,” Jamin Margaretich, Corona’s fiance and a front-seat passenger in Corona’s car at the time of the crash, said before Ibarra handed down his sentence. Margaretich and Corona’s mother, Monica Ebert, a rear-seat passenger, were both injured in the crash.

Ibarra’s order that Smith serve consecutive sentences for the habitual DUI and negligent homicide offenses follows a request by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kimberly Taniyama for a more severe sentence that she indicated to the court would serve as a deterrent to others in the community.

She said during the hearing that Smith’s lengthy history of run-ins with the law, particularly for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, and his subsequent failure to address the issue before Corona’s death is reason for the increased punishment.

According to Taniyama, who listed five instances including the fatal crash, Smith had a blood alcohol content greater than 0.086 — the legal limit is 0.08 — on four of the occasions and in three of the instances was involved in a crash.

“Every time the defendant gets into his car he’s a threat to everyone else on the road,” Taniyama said also noting that Smith had flipped his vehicle in 2004 at the site of the 2010 fatal crash. “A consecutive sentence demonstrates to the public that the offense is serious and the courts treat it as such.”

Smith pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to the charges after pleading not guilty in August.

Corona was the driver of a northbound 1999 Saturn four-door sedan carrying two passengers that was apparently struck by a southbound 2007 Honda two-door sedan driven by Smith.

Taniyama said Smith’s blood alcohol content was 0.101 and he tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol.

According to police, Smith had crossed the center line on Hawaii Belt Road near mile marker 88 and collided with Corona’s car.

Corona died at the scene of the crash.

Her two passengers were transported to Kona Community Hospital. Smith was arrested on multiple charges and later released pending further investigation.

Corona, employed by the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii, was an outreach coordinator who helped facilitate summer programs and classes for middle and high school students in West Hawaii.