Before the case could go to trial a plea agreement was reached Wednesday in the criminal case of Joy Marcille Smoot, a 48-year-old Pine River woman accused of allowing her son to use a vehicle involved in a July 2005 fatal crash.
Joy Smoot was charged March 24 in Crow Wing County District Court with gross misdemeanor driving after license cancellation and requiring or permitting an offense by another.
On July 8, 2005, Joy Smoot's son, 26-year-old Matthew Smoot, was allegedly driving drunk on Highway 371 in Pequot Lakes when he collided head-on with a vehicle driven by 16-year-old Joey Jordan. Jordan died died as a result of injuries suffered in the collision and Matthew Smoot was charged with several felony criminal offenses, including second-degree unintentional murder.
The charges filed against Joy Smoot alleged she unlawfully allowed Matthew Smoot to drive a Ford Explorer knowing he didn't have a driver's license; and that as the owner of the Ford Explorer she unlawfully and wrongfully allowed Matthew Smoot to operate the vehicle upon a highway in a manner contrary to the law.
Instead of going to trial Wednesday, Joy Smoot pleaded guilty to misdemeanor requiring or permitting an offense and the charge of gross misdemeanor driving after license cancellation was dismissed.
With the plea agreement, Joy Smoot will not serve jail time but will be on unsupervised probation for one year on the conditions that she pay a $377 fine and have no same or similar offenses.
Joy Smoot's attorney, Kent Strunk, said in a letter to the Dispatch that Joy Smoot acknowledged that if the jury were to believe the state's witnesses she could be found guilty.
Strunk also wrote that Joy Smoot didn't want to put her family or Jordan's family through a trial. He also wrote that Joy Smoot denied ever giving her son permission to drive her vehicle, didn't know her son was driving the vehicle the night of the fatal collision and catagorically denied that she ever went to lunch with her son where he drove.
"Not a day goes by that she, and her son Matthew, does not say a prayer for the friends and family of Joseph Jordan for their loss and they pray that God will help them find comfort and forgiveness," Strunk wrote. "Ms. Smoot herself has been through a similar tragedy having lost her brother in a traffic accident in Iowa on July 9th."
Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said with other criminal cases pending involving the fatal crash it was improper for him to comment Wednesday.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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