Karena D, Smith (Christian County mug shot)


Christian County authorities say they have apprehended a teenager charged with voluntary manslaughter for an alleged drunk driving crash that killed her boyfriend on Memorial Day.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek filed the manslaughter and two assault charges against Karena D. Smith, 17, of Tunas, on June 29 and she had been on the run from the law until last night (07-09-10.)

Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle says law enforcers with the Southern Missouri Fugitive Task Force apprehended Smith, "After receiving a tip about what kind of car she was going to be in, who she was going to be with and where she was headed on July 6th. We conducted a lot of surveillance at several places."


Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle

Kyle says that Smith was found in a home in southwestern Greene County and taken into custody without incident. Earlier this week Crime Stoppers offered a reward for Smith's capture.
According to the probable cause statement filed with the charges, Smith's blood alcohol level was allegedly .191 percent, more than double the legal limit, when she veered in front of a pickup truck in Ozark.


Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek

Her boyfriend Joshua W. Bridges, 21, of Fair Grove, was killed in the crash--another passenger in Smith's vehicle, Ashley Pierce, broke her pelvis and had a serious head injury. The driver of the pickup, Shannon Mitchell, broke his wrist.

This is not the only time Smith has eluded authorities. She was charged with DWI in Fair Grove municipal court in June of 2009. According to online court records, Smith failed to appear in court twice as that case worked it's way through the legal system and capius warrants for her arrest were issued each time.

Just 12 days before the fatal car crash Smith pled guilty to the misdemeanor DWI charge. She was placed on two years probation and her drivers license was revoked.

Sheriff Kyle says, "She wasn't gonna face the music any sooner than she had too."

Cleek says, "We're excited she was picked up and is in custody. On Monday she will appear before a judge and a date for her preliminary hearing will be set. I may ask at her hearing on Monday that her bond be set higher than $25,000 since she has a history of fleeing."

When asked about who supplied Smith with the alcohol and if that person or persons would be charged, Cleek said, "The investigation into who supplied her with alcohol is ongoing."

If convicted, Smith could be sentenced to between 5 to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. The assault charges carry a 1 to 7 years in prison sentence.

The fugitive task force included deputies from Greene, Christian, Webster and Dallas counties US Marshal’s office, Webster County Sheriff’s Department, the Ozark Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Kyle says that in the search for Smith authorities uncovered a meth lab in Douglas County and took Ricky Paul Hicks, who was wanted on an outstanding federal warrant, into custody. "It was a joint effort by several law enforcement agencies that used good ole' fashioned police work."
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UPDATE 10-13-10:

A judge has ruled that Karena Smith will stand trial for voluntary manslaughter.  She has been released on $5,000 bond at the request of  her boyfriend, the victim's, family.

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