Cassandra Smith, accused of killing Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor in a November DUI crash, was bond was denied for the second time on Friday.
Judge Jeffrey Gentile denied Smith bond the first time because law enforcement in November said it was not the first time she had been caught driving drunk. The attorney who tried the case — Lance Dunford of the law firm of Scott T. Moore — says the judge overseeing Friday’s hearing will either set bail or keep Smith in the same status she is currently in. Gentile ordered her to stay behind bars, feeling she could be a danger to society.
U video from her previous DUI arrest in Palm Beacha 30-year-old woman can be heard slurring her words and can be seen failing field sobriety tests, unable to stand on one leg or read the alphabet.
“That’s the thing; I need to protect the community,” Gentile said. “I believe the bond… or even the scramblers, those things don’t do… nothing explodes or stops someone from getting a car after they’ve been drinking and driving fast. Therefore, I cannot protect the community. And she showed twice that it should happen in a very short time. Twice in two years.”
Gentile did observe Friday’s hearing; This time, the trial was overseen by Judge Scott Kapp.
Smith’s attorney failed to convince Kapp that she was not a danger to the community or a flight threat. Smith’s attorney asked for bail of $250,000, a GPS monitoring bracelet and any other conditions the court deemed appropriate.
The State argued that there were no conditions that would have been acceptable other than her being in prison.
Family and friends of Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor entered the courtroom Friday and looked straight into Cassandra Smith’s eyes.
“She didn’t learn from her mistakes. And so we make mistakes to learn from them and move on and do the right thing. I don’t remember Christopher doing anything wrong. Except I was a teenager,” said Joan Corliss, Deputy Taylor’s grandmother.
Corliss appeared at Smith’s hearing for one reason. “I really wanted her to see us and know that he has so many people. The sad ones that will never live, maybe a wedding, maybe grandchildren, great-grandchildren, birthdays, holidays. I wanted her to see that he came from a big family.”
Smith faces manslaughter charges in the death of Deputy Taylor.
He was making a traffic stop on I-75 when crash investigators say Smith lost control and hit Taylor.
His family and friends occupied three court benches. They listened as Smith’s lawyer argued that she should be released on bail.
“This is somebody where the idea is that the lesson hasn’t been learned, somebody keeps making a mistake, accidents keep happening, not intentional evil that goes out to harm or harm,” Smith’s defense attorney said.
The judge disagreed; his driving friday was no connection.
“I was just happy for her that she wouldn’t be put in a position to do it again. And I felt really, I didn’t feel happy. You don’t feel those things,” Corliss said.
Corliss knows she will never hug her grandson again, but she prays to feel justice for him.
During a bail hearing, the state attorney said Smith’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.285 hours after the crash. The state attorney estimated her blood-alcohol level was close to .300 when her car struck Deputy Taylor. This is almost four times the legal limit.