Jury selection begins in wrong-way murder trial - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Localnews

Jury selection begins in wrong-way murder trial

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Posted: Monday, September 21, 2009 11:00 pm

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday afternoon in the murder trial of Christopher Smith.

Opening statements before Judge Cari Harrison could come as early as Tuesday afternoon in Maricopa County Superior Court in downtown Phoenix.

Police say that on Christmas Eve in 2007 Smith, 32, was drunk and driving for miles on the wrong side of Pecos Road when he crashed into a van, killing 32-year-old Trang Vo and injuring three others.

Almost two hours after the crash Smith’s blood alcohol level was 0.20, 150 percent over the legal limit of 0.08.

Court records show that Smith was also on probation at the time, from a 2006 endangerment conviction and he had a previous misdemeanor DUI conviction on his record.

Prosecutors are prepared to show that Smith, who lives in Tempe, may have started driving on the wrong side of Pecos Road at 19th Avenue around 11 p.m. Dec. 24, and drove for miles against the flow of traffic. Deputy County Attorney Allister Adel has said that Smith even stopped at the red light at Desert Foothills Parkway, and then drove around a vehicle, before continuing eastbound in the westbound lane.

Near the equivalent of 14th Street Smith’s 1991 Buick Regal slammed into a van driven by Ngyon Chung, 45, who was seriously injured in the crash.

Vo died at the hospital and two other female passengers, Kiem Chung, 40, and Tuyet Nguyen, 39, were seriously injured. The three live in Ahwatukee Foothills and were heading home at the time of the crash, according to police.

Smith is charged with one count of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum 22-year sentence, and three counts of aggravated assault, which carry a maximum of 15 years in prison each.

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