ST. GEORGE – Court proceedings in an alleged automobile homicide that occurred in Hurricane earlier this year could see a resolution in the next month.
Randahl Keith Hill, 25, of Hurricane, appeared in 5th District Court with attorney Ryan Stout for an arraignment hearing and potential resolution Tuesday morning. However, Stout said a resolution has not yet been reached in the case, but in the interest moving the case forward he entered a “not guilty” plea on behalf of his client.
As a plea deal may yet be worked out between the defense and the Washington County Attorney’s Office, the court scheduled a status review hearing in Hill’s case at Stout’s request. The next hearing is set for Sept. 14.
A possible trial date has not yet been set in the case.
Hill faces two felony and two misdemeanor charges connected with the death of 52-year-old Arkansas resident Bruce Smale. Hill is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing Smale’s death on May 19 in an incident involving Hill’s 1994 Mustang.
Around 5 a.m. on May 19, in the area of 300 N. 35 West in Hurricane, police were called out to a scene where a man – later identified as Smale – was lying in the roadway. He was confirmed dead at the scene by responders.
Witnesses told police Smale had been on the hood of a Mustang and had fallen off. Several skid and tread marks allegedly matching the Mustang gave investigators the impression that the car had been moving at a high rate of speed, according to a probable cause statement.
“Witnesses provided information that Randahl was driving and investigators interviewed him regarding the details of the incident,” Hurricane City Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said in press release. “Randahl told investigators that the victim was on the hood of the vehicle as he drove away very quickly and continued driving as he fell off. Witnesses have also confirmed seeing the victim on the hood of the vehicle.”
When police first encountered Hill, he smelled of alcohol and had trouble walking and keeping his balance, Buell said.
During an interview with police, Hill said he was doing a “burn out” in his Mustang when Smale fell off the hood. He said he left the scene and came back a short time later, returning to find his mother standing over Smale’s body, according to the probable cause statement.
Hill also told police he and Smale had been drinking beer since 10 p.m. the night before and had consumed at least 12 cans of beer during that time.
Hill faces one second-degree felony charge for criminally negligent automobile homicide involving a DUI, a third-degree felony for failure to remain at an accident, and two class B misdemeanor charges for DUI and reckless driving.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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