ShareThis Page

Jury convicts Westmoreland bicyclist for traffic snarls

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, 11:33 a.m.

Hempfield bicyclist David Smith will remain behind bars for at least three more months as he awaits sentencing after being convicted Friday of repeatedly obstructing traffic on county roads.

A Westmoreland County jury took more than three hours to convict Smith on nine misdemeanor counts in six of eight cases dating back to 2012. Jurors acquitted him of charges stemming from a case in 2013 in South Greensburg and another from Hempfield in 2015.

During his four-day trial, the prosecution claimed Smith intentionally set out to delay traffic as he rode his bicycle down the center of local roads. Jurors found Smith guilty of charges that included obstructing highways, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.

Smith, 58, has been in jail for more than a year after his bail was revoked when he admitted he violated a court order that prohibited him from riding his bicycle on county roads. Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio said that because Smith has refused to undergo a mental health evaluation he will stay incarcerated until he is sentenced in about three months.

Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli said that as a result of the convictions, Smith could be sentenced to serve up to nine years in prison, but most of the misdemeanor offenses for which he was found guilty are likely to result in just a few months behind bars.

Iannamorelli said he may ask that Smith's jail stay be extended beyond the year he has already served but hasn't determined what length a sentence he will ask to be imposed.

In addition to the misdemeanors, Bilik-DeFazio found Smith guilty of five additional summary traffic-related citations.

Defense attorney Larry Burns said Smith will appeal.

During the trial, the prosecution said Smith was intent on disrupting traffic and controlling the roads while riding his bicycle.

“Mr. Smith thinks he's famous. He thinks he has paparazzi following him,” Iannamorelli told jurors during closing arguments.

When traffic did back up behind the bicycle, Smith became angry and abusive to motorists, hitting one woman's car in South Greensburg and another driver's vehicle in Unity, Iannamorelli said. He cut off drivers and attempted to use his bike to hit vehicles, he said.

“It was to preen his false intelligence and his false reading of the law. Mr. Smith was using the road as his false protest against the law,” Iannamorelli argued.

Burns argued that Smith's actions were within the law and that it was motorists who were at fault for failing to safely pass the bicyclist. Burns told jurors Smith was targeted by police.

“The theme of this is if any cars come up behind him he has to be arrested. He was on the highway legally. A person's choice to ride a bicycle is not up to the DA,” Burns said.

Burns told jurors that his client was not guilty and suggested that it was a sin to convict an innocent man.

“Mr. Iannamorelli is going to try to make sinners of you,” Burns said.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me