Former airman pleads guilty to lesser charge in drunken driving case

By From page A1 | October 11, 2012

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County District Attorney’s Office gave up on a yearlong effort Wednesday to seek a murder conviction against a former Travis Air Force Base airman who killed a Fairfield man in a May 2011 drunken driving crash.

A plea deal was finalized prior to the start of a second day of prosecution witness testimony. As part of the deal, a murder charge was dropped against Tyler Scott in exchange for his guilty pleas to felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.

Scott, 22, faces up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 12. He could have faced a possible life sentence if he had been found guilty of murder.

On the night of May 25, 2011, George E. Smith, a father of five and a grandfather of 12, was on his way home from work. He was driving his green Nissan Xterra on Cement Hill Road a few blocks from home.

Scott, who had been drinking heavily for hours at a party while Smith was working, was driving home from the party on Cement Hill Road in his pickup truck. He was rushing to see the midnight movie debut of “The Hangover: Part II.”

On the first day of the jury trial, the prosecutor said Scott had his foot floored on the accelerator when he lost control of his truck while driving at more than 75 mph. The vehicle careened into the oncoming traffic lane, crashing into Smith’s car, demolishing it in a second or two and killing Smith.

Scott suffered a superficial injury to one of his arms in the crash.

Scott’s attorney, Daniel Russo, previously said prosecutors could not prove Scott had acted deliberately or with gross indifference before the crash. Russo said if a jury did find Scott guilty of murder, an appeals court would almost certainly have reversed the verdict.

Russo, who spoke glowingly Tuesday to jurors about Scott’s military service in Iraq, said he hopes Judge Harry S. Kinnicutt will punish Scott with something less than the maximum possible prison sentence.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 3 comments

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  • BSOctober 11, 2012 - 7:53 am

    This punk was out driving drunk (and crashed another car) mere months after he killed this man. He takes a life and will probably not even serve 6 years. Disgusting. Its sickening that this kid's family has the financial backing to save his sorry skin in court. Not sure how Mr. Russo can sleep at night.

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  • DOctober 13, 2012 - 12:13 am

    Disgusting. I don't care if he is a veteran, he should spend the rest of his life in prison. 11 years is nothing compared to the years his victim lost.

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  • MaureenOctober 18, 2012 - 7:49 am

    George Smith was a veteran. This report is incomplete without that information. It is disrespectful to his memory & family to omit it. Society will never change & people will continue to die while our legal system continues to give criminals light sentences. I suppose they will give him early release too. Scott's service to this country was used as an excuse. The truth is: Hero's don't kill family men.

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