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Hempfield bicyclist to be released after more than a year in jail

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 5:06 p.m.
David Smith of Hempfield is led away from the Westmoreland County Courthouse on Sept. 9, 2016. (Trib photo)
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
David Smith of Hempfield is led away from the Westmoreland County Courthouse on Sept. 9, 2016. (Trib photo)
David Smith of Hempfield
David Smith of Hempfield

After about 20 months in jail, a Hempfield bicyclist convicted last summer of obstructing traffic on county roads could be released as early as today.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio sentenced David Smith, 58, to serve four to 23 months in jail and another two years on probation.

“This crusade is over. This battle is over. I'm done with it all,” Smith said during Thursday's sentencing hearing. “I'm disappointed with the cyclists in this county.”

A jury in August convicted Smith of nine misdemeanor offenses involving six separate incidents dating back to 2012 in which he was accused of riding down the center of various roads and delaying traffic that he refused to allow to pass.

In several of the incidents, motorists accused Smith of being aggressive. One driver said Smith struck her car as she waited behind him at an intersection.

Jurors acquitted Smith of charges in two cases — one from South Greensburg in 2013 and another from Hempfield in 2015.

“It was really a miracle that no one has been hurt or killed,” Bilik-DeFazio said.

Cases against Smith took various turns over the years and did so again in court Thursday, when it appeared the judge was prepared to send him to state prison.

While standard sentences under state guidelines called for Smith to receive a few months in jail, Bilik-DeFazio said she would not impose a sentence that allowed Smith to be immediately paroled unless he agreed to undergo a mental health evaluation — the same condition the judge set in September 2016, when she tentatively agreed to allow Smith to go free while he awaited trial.

Smith last year refused to have the evaluation. For a time Thursday, he continued his opposition.

“I realize this gentleman has been in jail a really long time only because he won't surrender himself to what the law complies,” Bilik-DeFazio said.

After Smith finally agreed to have an evaluation, the judge gave him credit for time served. She said Smith will be released after the evaluation, which could occur on Friday.

Once released, Smith will be prohibited from riding a bicycle on roads or other surfaces that vehicles travel.

Smith, at times defiant during the sentencing hearing, later seem resigned to his fate. He said he had no interest in biking on local trails and would favor a state law that bars bicyclists from riding on the road.

Smith also said he didn't believe he received a fair trial and that he expected to again be accused of delaying traffic, even though he didn't intend to do so.

“For that reason, I cannot continue to reside in this county. I am not angry. I am disappointed,” Smith said. “I'd be happy to see a complete ban on bicycling on all roadways. I feel completely defeated. This will never go away, and people won't forget.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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