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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Erin Ruth Smith Pleads Guilty In U.S. Federal Court

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on March 5, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, ERIN RUTH SMITH, a 21-year-old resident of Wyola and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, pled guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Sentencing has been set for June 5, 2013. She is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On August 31, 2012, at approximately 8:30 a.m., SMITH was driving (alone) on the Crow Indian Reservation and then went onto Interstate 90. However SMITH was going the wrong way (eastward in the west-bound lanes). SMITH crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by F.H.M. F.H.M. had moved to the passing lane because he was trying to pass a Suburban. F.H.M.'s wife, L.M., along with two other passengers, B.B.C. and L.C., were critically injured in the crash. F.H.M. was not seriously injured and was released from the hospital later that day. Both L.M. and B.B.C. underwent emergency surgeries on the day of the crash. L.C. underwent surgery on September 4, 2012. Additional surgeries were also done. Doctors for L.M., L.C., and B.B.C signed forms indicating that their injuries met the definition of serious bodily injury. Since the crash, L.M., B.B.C., and L.C. have spent multiple days in the hospital and have had numerous surgeries.

SMITH, at the scene of the crash, admitted to drinking alcohol before the crash. She was interviewed while in the hospital recovering from injuries about the crash and the events leading up to the crash. She indicated that she was not sure how she was driving her friend's car the wrong direction on Interstate 90. SMITH, however, was certain that she had not stolen the car. SMITH recalled drinking whiskey and beer and partying with a friend before the crash. At the end of the interview with the agents, SMITH stated, "I am sorry, guys - I am sorry, never again, no more drinking and driving."

SMITH's blood was drawn shortly after the crash, and was sent to the FBI lab for analysis. The results were that SMITH's BAC was 0.235 gm/ml.

SMITH faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Updated January 14, 2015