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Salina trucker found guilty of battery

By Katherine Wartell

Robert Lee Smith, Salina, has been found guilty of attempted aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery.

Smith, who threatened motorists with the semi tractor-trailer he was driving Oct. 7, 2011, entered pleas of no contest to the amended charges Friday morning, March 9, in Pottawatomie District Court.

Smith entered the pleas as a result of a plea agreement in which a number of other charges against him — including attempted second-degree murder — were dismissed.

“When you’re sentenced, Mr. Smith, I’ll be looking for some explanation of your conduct,” District Judge Jeff Elder told the defendant, adding that he hoped an official toxicology report on Smith would be available prior to sentencing.

Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, April 12.

Lack of a toxicology report “gave us pause” on the charge of attempted second-degree murder, Sherri Schuck, Pott County attorney, said following Friday’s hearing. “We can’t prove he attempted to kill anyone.”

The toxicology report has apparently been delayed due to a backlog at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, she said.

Prior to accepting the pleas, Elder heard evidence from Schuck on the amended charges of attempted aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery.

Smith drove the semi at the patrol vehicle of Jason Siversten, Pott County deputy, who had driven to a parking area off Lincoln Ave. in downtown Wamego, after hearing reports of a semi threatening vehicles on Interstate 70, Schuck told the court.

Smith left the roadway in Wamego and drove toward Siversten’s patrol car, swerving at the last minute, Schuck said.

Siversten joined other officers in chasing the semi north on K-99, where Smith used the semi to chase a Toyota Corolla into a private drive and around a residential construction site just north of Louisville, Schuck said.

The driver of the Toyota — Kristie K. Dressman of Frankfort — sustained severe whiplash as a result of the incident, Schuck said.

Smith was arrested after the semi became mired in the mud at the construction site, and told officers he was “trying to effect an arrest on behalf of the governor,” Schuck said, adding that methamphetamine was found in the truck.

Elder scheduled sentencing for Smith at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 12. The conviction of attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer carries a penalty of 31-136 months in prison, a fine of up to $300,000, or both. The aggravated battery conviction carries a penalty of 11-34 months in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

Under the plea agreement, Schuck recommended the sentences run concurrently.

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