A Littleton man who was driving drunk and high when he hit and killed two people on a motorcycle was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.
Arapahoe District Judge Ben Leutwyler sentenced Matthew Samuel Smith, 58, for the Sept. 5, 2016, deaths of Brandon Dobson, 21, and Breona Knight, 20.
There is “no sentence that I can fashion that will fill the hole in the lives of everyone here,” Judge Leutwyler told a courtroom filled with supporters on both sides. “This was an entirely preventable tragedy … It is astounding to me that people drink and drive.”
District Attorney George Brauchler was pleased to see that Smith will spend time in prison.
“Colorado’s weak laws provide no promise of prison for those who pour themselves behind the wheel, drive on our streets, and kill one, two … 10 or more of our innocent neighbors or friends,” Brauchler said. “There is no truth in sentencing, either. This killer of two can expect to be parole-eligible in fewer than four years. Four years for two young lives. How is that justice?
“I am glad that the families of the victims and this prosecution team were able to extract even this tiny measure of justice for this senseless, avoidable, preventable killing of two young people.”
Smith and a passenger were in his 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan traveling southbound on Parker Road in Aurora. Dobson was driving his motorcycle northbound on Parker with Knight as a passenger.
Smith attempted to turn left onto East Temple Drive and failed to yield to oncoming traffic. The minivan struck the motorcycle.
Dobson was pronounced dead at Parker Adventist Hospital. Knight was pronounced dead at Medical Center of Aurora South.
“The hurt and pain is unbearable – I have lost an extension of myself and no longer feel complete,” Dobson’s mother told the judge during a three-hour sentencing hearing July 23, during which more than 20 supporters of the victims spoke. “We grieve for the life he was denied by Mr. Smith’s selfish and irresponsible actions.”
Samples of Smith’s blood drawn 90 minutes after the crash found a blood-alcohol content of 0.054 and presence of cocaine.
Police found five empty 50 ml bottles of peppermint schnapps in the van along with drug paraphernalia.
“A huge piece of my heart died with Breona that day … it is unbearable pain that will never go away,” Knight’s mother said through tears. “Mr. Smith killed my daughter because of his careless decisions … He made a choice to drink, do drugs and drive — this was 100 percent preventable.”
On May 8, an Arapahoe County jury convicted Smith of two counts of vehicular homicide DUI; two counts of vehicular homicide reckless driving; two counts of reckless manslaughter; and one count of failure to yield right of way.
Leutwyler sentenced Smith to six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections for each death, to be served consecutively. Sentences on the other counts will be served concurrently.
The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Sugioka and Deputy District Attorney Kristin Tuttle.