published Friday, July 19th, 2013

Former Varnell police officer won't go to jail for fatal crash, gets 10 years’ probation

Varnell Police Officer James Smith was driving this cruiser when he crashed into Leon Thurman's car March 5. Thurman was at least the sixth Georgian killed in recent years in a crash involving a law enforcement vehicle.
Contributed Photo by Michael Thurman
Varnell Police Officer James Smith was driving this cruiser when he crashed into Leon Thurman's car March 5. Thurman was at least the sixth Georgian killed in recent years in a crash involving a law enforcement vehicle. Contributed Photo by Michael Thurman

Former Varnell, Ga., police officer James Smith pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving in the March 5, 2012, death of Leon Thurman.

Smith, who was off-duty, slammed his police cruiser into the Dodge Neon that Thurman was using to deliver newspapers in the early morning crash on Cleveland Highway in Whitfield County.

Smith won’t serve prison time. Whitfield County Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris sentenced him to 10 years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine and court fees. Smith also is banned from working in law enforcement again.

Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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