Trial set for state police official

CHIPPEWA COUNTY – Gladstone’s former state police commander who was arrested for drunk driving last summer, is scheduled for a three-day jury trial in Chippewa County District Court in May.

William H. Smith, 43, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) after he crashed his vehicle on July 7, 2012, in Chippewa County. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Smith is scheduled to be tried before a jury on May 21-23. The trial date was announced following a motions hearing in district court Friday.

During that hearing, Alger County Prosecutor Karen Bahrman made a motion to reverse the judge’s prior decision to suppress the search warrant. Her request was denied.

This is the second time the OWI charge has been brought before the court because the original case was dismissed last August due to a technicality.

The search warrant used to obtain further evidence, including a blood test, was ordered invalid last fall.

The document was signed by a former Chippewa County court employee who had been relieved of her magistrate duties because of mental health concerns. When the search warrant was ruled invalid, the OWI charge against Smith was dismissed.

The case was reopened in late November when assigned to Bahrman, the second out-of-county prosecutor to handle the case.

Following an internal investigation by the state police headquarters last fall, Smith was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant and was transferred from Gladstone to Lansing. He was suspended 15 days without pay. He is currently working as a desk sergeant at the state police post in Gaylord.

According to test results, Smith’s blood alcohol content was .13 at the time of his arrest in July compared to the .08 drunk driving standard.

Another motions hearing is scheduled for March 19 in the event additional requests are sought by the defense or the prosecution prior to the trial in May, said a court official Tuesday.