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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2013

Man guilty of deadly assault on bouncer

5-year prison term rankles victim’s family

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Jamieus Smith turned to the family of the man whose life he ended with a single punch and apologized.

“It was never my intention for this to happen,” Smith said, fighting back tears. “I would never intentionally try to take someone’s life, but it happened. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t even know him. I’ve been praying for him since it happened.”

Smith, 29, of 2029 Southmoor Dr. in South Toledo pleaded no contest Tuesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to involuntary manslaughter in the commission of misdemeanor assault in the death of John R. White, 38, of Lake Township.

Judge Frederick McDonald sentenced him to the agreed-upon maximum term of three years in prison along with two more years for an unrelated conviction for trafficking in cocaine and having a weapon under disability.

The five-year sentence seemed like far too little to family members of Mr. White, a bouncer at the Déjà vu nightclub on South Byrne Road.

Andy Lastra, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court that after being denied admittance to the bar Sept. 29, an intoxicated Smith got into a confrontation with club security workers in the parking lot, where he punched Mr. White, knocking him backward.

Mr. Lastra said Mr. White struck his head on the bumper of a sport utility vehicle, and then hit his head on the pavement. He died eight days later from multiple skull fractures at University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

Because of the circumstances of the homicide, Mr. Lastra said the prosecutor’s office did not feel it could proceed to trial on a charge of murder and risk an acquittal. He told the court that neither Mr. White’s family nor the detectives who investigated the case were happy with the plea agreement.

Defense attorney Jon Richardson said that his client, while not intending to kill Mr. White, felt responsible and remorseful for his death.

“When I presented this to Jamieus last week, he said, ‘The man died. I’ll go to prison for it,’” Mr. Richardson said. “I think it matters to say there was no intentional homicide here,” he said. “There was a punch like there probably will be in some bar in Toledo tonight.”

Kimberly Moore of Lake Township, who was in a relationship with Mr. White for 15 years and had two children with him, said it’s been hard for their son and daughter, and the stepdaughter Mr. White considered his to come to terms with his absence.

“He was huge on family. ... He would have given you the shirt off his back,” she said afterward.

Ms. Moore said the five-year sentence was less than the family was expecting and less than they think was deserved. She told Smith in court, “It will take me awhile before I can forgive you. Right now, I can’t. I’m sorry.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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