June 26--After David Smith of Hempfield was struck and injured by a drunken driver while riding his bicycle 10 years ago, he sued and won a $50,000 settlement.
Over the next decade, Smith attempted to position himself for another accident and another financial windfall, according to testimony the district attorney wants to present to jurors during the bicyclist's trial next month. Smith is accused of eight separate incidents of obstructing traffic and creating a dangerous condition for motorists as he biked on various roadways.
"It's ridiculous, and I think the public will understand that," defense attorney Larry Burns said Monday in response to a document filed earlier in the day by Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli.
Iannamorelli said jurors should be able to consider evidence that Smith's behavior on his bicycle has been an ongoing attempt to recreate the circumstances that led to his windfall in 2007.
"This information is relevant at trial to prove motive and intent for operating his pedacycle in the subsequent cases now being tried. Indeed, it shows that defendant has benefitted monetarily from riding his pedacycle in an obstructive and disorderly manner," Iannamorelli said.
The motion before Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik DeFazio, which is expected to be decided before trial, includes additional requests by the prosecution to present evidence that Smith's behavior on his bicycle has been part of a long-running pattern that resulted in convictions of similar crimes in 2010 as well as numerous summary citations and traffic tickets in 2014 and 2015.
Smith, 58, has been in jail for more than a year awaiting trial on eight cases dating to 2012 in which police contend he bicycled in a manner that created dangerous situations for motorists, slowly pedaling down the center of major roadways and preventing vehicles from passing.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Aug. 7.
Iannamorelli's evidence of a potential motive involves an 2007 incident in which Smith was bicycling along Route 30 at night in the rain when a drunken driver struck him from behind. Smith was thrown from the bike and was injured, and the driver was charged with drunken driving, according to the prosecution's motion.
Burns down-played the suggestion of motive but said he was considering allowing the jury to hear the evidence.
"It was a one-time incident and such a ridiculous accusation (against Smith). It says more about the district attorney than Mr. Smith," Burns said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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