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Two vehicular homicide cases sentenced

Posted: December 6, 2017 - 1:56am

Two individuals involved in vehicular homicide cases in Columbia County have received prison sentences.

An Evans man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for vehicular homicide after he crashed his vehicle head-on into another driver while intoxicated.

Douglas S. Robinson, 43, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, endangering a child while driving under the influence, driving on the wrong side of the roadway, and driving too fast for conditions, said Assistant District Attorney Thomas Watkins.

Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced Robinson. Watkins said Robinson had no prior criminal history.

Robinson was driving a GMC Yukon on Baker Place Road the afternoon of April 17, 2016, when he crossed the center line and struck a Toyota Tacoma driven by 45-year-old Francisco Briceño.

Robinson was driving with his wife and infant child in the car.

According to his obituary, Briceno was married and the father of two children.

In a separate and unrelated case, Judge Sharon Jolley sentenced Christopher Michael Cheek to nine years in prison and two years probation in the Oct. 2016 death of Timothy Darly Smith, who was jogging less than a mile from his home.

Cheek hit Smith so hard he was thrown more than 100 yards and knocked out of his shoes. The 22-year-old died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Cheek did not stop after hitting Smith and eluded police for two days, during which time he made repairs to the damage done to his vehicle, including replacing the hood.

Cheek was sentenced to eight years for vehicular homicide in the first degree, along with another 12 months in prison for failure to report an accident, to be served concurrently.

Cheek waived venue and pleaded guilty to a Richmond County charge of tampering with evidence in the case, for which Jolley sentenced him to 12 months in confinement, the maximum allowed by law.

Cheek also received 12 months probation each for the charges of reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the roadway.

A witness to the hit-and-run recalled through tears hearing the crash and Smith's screams, adding the only thing that slowed Cheek down was the impact.

Assistant District Attorney Pete Lamb stated that four prescription pill bottles were in the car at the time of Cheek's arrest in North Augusta, though no toxicology tests were performed because he had fled the scene.

Defense co-counselors argued even if Cheek had stopped, Smith could not have been saved.

The defense asked the judge to consider a lesser sentence than the 15 years the state requested, because Cheek had no intentions of hitting Smith.

"I think it came across very clearly that it would be an entirely different story had he simply stopped," Lamb said of Cheek after the conclusion to the case.

"We can speculate all day long why he did not stop, but the fact is he didn't."

According to Lamb, Cheek has a long history of speeding, single-vehicle crashes, suspected DUIs and other driving-related charges dating back to 1994 in South Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia.

Lamb described one incident in Richmond County recently in which Cheek was involved in a single-car accident when he struck several mailboxes and hit a parked car that then hit another car.

The incident occurred with one of Cheek's children in the vehicle at the time, who suffered a seatbelt burn.

Cheek's ex-wife was called to speak to the court, and she stated she was concerned for her children's safety around their father.

Two witnesses to the crash spoke before the court Monday, including a woman and her 9-year-old daughter who called 911 immediately after Cheek hit Smith.

"My daughter looked outside the car. I watched in a matter of seconds my daughter's innocence gone," Cassidy Poindexter told the court, adding she could not explain to her daughter why someone would leave another person to die.

Poindexter recalled coming upon the crash and the large amount of debris, and the disbelief and realization that a person was part of the collision when his body was found.

"It's something that's with us every day.

"Even if we're not thinking about it, (we're) constantly aware."

Poindexter said she also remembers when Smith's mother, who was present in court Monday, arrived on the scene.

"I have never witnessed that kind of pain, and my children heard it too," Poindexter said through tears, adding the crash has impacted her daughter to this day, and that she still suffers from nightmares.

Smith's mother also addressed the court, and at times spoke directly to Cheek.

"He didn't even have the decency to stop," Leanne Smith told the court, through tears.

"Be accountable. You have put us in a nightmare we will never wake up from."

 

Staff writers Sandy Hodson and Abbigail Lennon contributed to this report.

 

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