Kevin MacMillanNorth Lake Tahoe Bonanza

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March 13, 2012
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Investigation into fatal pedestrian crash could wrap soon (updated w/ comment from suspect's attorneys)

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — It could take a week or more before the investigation into the New Year's Eve weekend fatal pedestrian accident near the Radio Shack crosswalk on Highway 28 is complete, the deputy district attorney assigned to the case said Monday.“We're still working with (Nevada Highway Patrol) on all the reports from the investigation. Once we get all the reports, we then can come to an appropriate charging decision,” said Michael Bolenbaker, of the Washoe County DA's office.When asked about a timetable for that decision to be made, Bolenbaker said he couldn't be sure, but he hoped “sooner rather than later.”“Hopefully within a week,” he said.According to previous reports, Christopher Torii Smith, 25, of Grass Valley, Calif., was driving a black 2006 Chevrolet pickup southbound (east toward Sand Harbor) on Highway 28 east of the Village Boulevard intersection shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, when his truck struck Linda S. Mathis and Robert C. Mathis, who were crossing from the east side. The Mathises, who were Incline residents, both 46, died from injuries suffered.Michael L. Becker and Michael Castillo, with the Las Vegas Defense Group, are representing Smith.“This was obviously a tragic accident ... all indications point to Linda and Robert Mathis as good people,” the attorneys said in a phone interview Wednesday.According to published reports, witness statements and evidence at the scene indicate the Mathises were in or close to the painted crosswalk located near the Tahoe Regional Transit Agency bus stop when they were struck.Smith, who was suspected to be under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, was booked into Washoe County Jail on suspicion of two counts of DUI causing death and failure to yield to pedestrians; his bail was set at $60,200. He was released from jail during that weekend.On Wednesday, Castillo and Becker said they are confident if charges are filed, they can build a solid case once the discovery process begins, considering uncertainty exists regarding Smith's toxicology results and whether or not the Mathises were in the crosswalk.Furthermore, the apparent “inherent danger of that crosswalk” could also be called into question, Castillo said.“We trust that the DA's office will do a thorough investigation, and our hope is that they decide to not file charges against our client,” he said.If felony charges are filed, Bolenbaker said a preliminary hearing would be scheduled at the James V. Mancuso Justice Court in Incline Village.If misdemeanor charges are filed, then a misdemeanor trial would be held.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 14, 2012 06:00PM Published Mar 13, 2012 03:50PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.