Tahoe City man sentenced to 6 years probation for March DUI fatality
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Moments before being sentenced Tuesday for a crime that contributed to the death of his friend, the victim’s mother, Kathie Fenley, approached Kelley Robert Smith, wrapped her arm around him and embraced him.
“I want you to come out of this whole,” Fenley said through tears in her eyes.
“Thank you, I will,” Smith responded. “I promise I will. We’ll talk.”
Smith and his attorney, Dan Kokoul, then sat to listen to Placer County Superior Court Judge James F. Dawson’s sentence.
Citing the 165 days Smith had already served in jail in Auburn, Dawson sentenced the 23-year-old Tahoe City resident to six years probation for the March 7 drunken driving accident that resulted in the death of fellow Tahoe City resident Daniel Koenig.
The sentencing will require Smith to make routine visits to a probation officer who may request that Smith enter prescribed rehabilitation, Dawson said during Tuesday’s hearing at the Tahoe City Courtroom.
Along with mandatory random alcohol and drug testing, Smith will be required to notify a probation officer prior to any plans he may have for leaving California, Dawson said.
County court clerk officials will also calculate a DUI fine Smith will be responsible for paying.
“Should you ever be arrested with another similar DUI in the future, you will be charged with murder,” Dawson warned.
On March 7, 2015, Koenig was a passenger in Smith’s Subaru, along with one other passenger, Tony Thompson, 25, of Tahoe City, when Smith lost control of the vehicle on Highway 28 in Carnelian Bay, according to the California Highway Patrol.
CHP reported Smith lost control due to “reasons related to (his) intoxication” while traveling “at a high rate of speed.”
Koenig was pronounced dead at the scene, according to CHP. Smith suffered minor injuries, and Thompson was unhurt. Koenig was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
CHP reported Smith to have had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, nearly twice California’s legal limit of 0.08, during field sobriety tests conducted at the time of his arrest.
Smith was subsequently charged with three felonies, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Smith was also charged with DUI and causing bodily injury while driving under the influence, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
After his sentencing Tuesday, Smith asked the judge if he could speak briefly. Turning around at his desk, Smith looked to Fenley and apologized to her and to family members for the grief he caused.
“I am a shame to me, to where I grew up and to my community,” he said. “I am fortunate the court is giving me the suspended sentence.”
With Smith’s sentence handed down, the bailiff began escorting him back toward his holding cell. Just before he left the courtroom, Smith asked the bailiff for a moment with Fenley.
The two hugged, and through tears, he apologized again to Koenig’s mother.
Smith was then led back to his holding cell, while Fenley, accompanied by others, exited the courtroom.