January 19, 2021

guilty

Sonic Automotive Inc. CEO David Smith will plead not guilty to charges including felony assault by strangulation related to an alleged October incident with a 22-year-old woman in Charlotte, N.C., his lawyer told Automotive News.

Smith on Tuesday waived his probable-cause hearing in Mecklenburg County District Court in which Smith’s lawyer, George Laughrun, appeared on Smith’s behalf, Jessica Davis, public information officer in the Mecklenburg County trial court administrator’s office, wrote in an email to Automotive News.

Defendants have rights to probable-cause hearings, which are used to determine if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed and if the defendant is believed to be the one who committed the crime. The waiver of the hearing is often procedural and does not equate to any admission of guilt.

The case will move to Mecklenburg County Superior Court because one of the charges against Smith is a felony, Davis said. His next court date, in which Smith would be due to enter a plea, hasn’t been scheduled.

Smith, 46, also faces charges of false imprisonment, assault on a female and interfering with emergency communication. Laughrun declined to comment further.

Smith, who has led the nation’s sixth-largest new-vehicle retailer since 2018, was arrested Oct. 5. The woman, who is not related to Smith, told the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department that she was assaulted and unlawfully restrained at a Charlotte home. She had minor injuries of bruises and scratches, according to the police report.

Smith, son of Sonic co-founder and Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, spent a night in the Mecklenburg County Jail and was released on $30,000 bail.

Sonic’s board, led by Bruton Smith, issued a statement following Smith’s arrest saying that it remained “steadfast in its support” of Smith and indicated Smith had told the board he was innocent of the charges.

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A Papillion man will be sentenced in January after a jury found him guilty of two counts of motor vehicle homicide and misdemeanor reckless driving in the deaths of two Millard youths.

The Sarpy County District Court jury on Friday found 39-year-old Jesse O. Knight guilty of causing the deaths of 10-year-old Stephen Young and his sister, Abby Young, 16. He also was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless driving and pleaded guilty to operating a commercial vehicle without a commercial driving license. 



Jesse O. Knight

Jesse O. Knight




The crash occurred shortly after 9:45 a.m. Aug. 8, 2019, on eastbound Nebraska Highway 370 near 192nd Street. Kristy Young and her four children were in a 2016 Toyota minivan that was stopped at a red light when it was hit from behind by a dump truck driven by Knight.

Stephen Young, who was about to enter the fifth grade at Millard’s Reagan Elementary School, was pronounced dead at the scene. Abby Young, who would have been a junior at Millard West High School, died at a hospital. 

Kristy Young and her sons Levi, 14, and Hunter, 12, were taken in critical condition to Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy. Other people in vehicles that became entangled in the crash also were injured and taken to the hospital.

[email protected], 402-444-1272

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A 14-year-old boy has pleaded guilty in adult court to fatally shooting an older teenager seated in a parked pickup truck in St. Paul.

The St. Paul teen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17 after admitting Friday to second-degree unintentional murder in connection with the death on Sept. 1 of Jorge E. Batres, 17, of Coon Rapids, on the city’s East Side.

Officers were called to the 1200 block of Hazelwood Street about 6 p.m., where they found Batres in the driver’s seat of the pickup with a gunshot wound to the head. He was declared dead at the scene.

The teen’s mother and law enforcement agreed that he be prosecuted as an adult and receive a 12-year sentence, with the first eight years served while incarcerated, said county attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein. The agreement also calls for dismissal of a second-degree intentional murder count.

Defense attorney Mike Padden declined to comment about the case.

The state sees very few suspects this young or younger accused of murder. Since 2001, there have been at least eight others who were 14 and younger charged with murder in Minnesota, according to a state judicial branch spokesman.

While the criminal complaint and the County Attorney’s Office has publicly identified the defendant by name, the Star Tribune is withholding his identity because of his age.

According to the criminal complaint:

One of two witnesses told police that the teen and Batres appeared to struggle in the pickup. One shot was fired while both were in the vehicle. The suspect got out and shot Batres again, took money from inside the vehicle and ran off.

Video surveillance from a nearby market showed the teen about half-hour earlier wearing the same yellow bandanna as described by one of the witnesses.

Batres’ sister told an investigator that he had accumulated more than $1,000. Investigators searched the suspect’s home and seized $1,525 and three bags of marijuana from his bedroom.

Officers located the teen, and he said he was at the market earlier “but went home to take a shower and then came back with his mother,” the complaint read.

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A 14-year-old boy has pleaded guilty in adult court to fatally shooting an older teenager seated in a parked pickup truck in St. Paul.

The St. Paul teen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17 after admitting Friday to second-degree unintentional murder in connection with the death on Sept. 1 of Jorge E. Batres, 17, of Coon Rapids, on the city’s East Side.

Officers were called to the 1200 block of Hazelwood Street about 6 p.m., where they found Batres in the driver’s seat of the pickup with a gunshot wound to the head. He was declared dead at the scene.

The teen’s mother and law enforcement agreed that he be prosecuted as an adult and receive a 12-year sentence, with the first eight years served while incarcerated, said county attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein. The agreement also calls for dismissal of a second-degree intentional murder count.

Defense attorney Mike Padden declined to comment about the case.

The state sees very few suspects this young or younger accused of murder. Since 2001, there have been at least eight others who were 14 and younger charged with murder in Minnesota, according to a state judicial branch spokesman.

While the criminal complaint and the County Attorney’s Office has publicly identified the defendant by name, the Star Tribune is withholding his identity because of his age.

According to the criminal complaint:

One of two witnesses told police that the teen and Batres appeared to struggle in the pickup. One shot was fired while both were in the vehicle. The suspect got out and shot Batres again, took money from inside the vehicle and ran off.

Video surveillance from a nearby market showed the teen about half-hour earlier wearing the same yellow bandanna as described by one of the witnesses.

Batres’ sister told an investigator that he had accumulated more than $1,000. Investigators searched the suspect’s home and seized $1,525 and three bags of marijuana from his bedroom.

Officers located the teen, and he said he was at the market earlier “but went home to take a shower and then came back with his mother,” the complaint read.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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