02/27/08 — Former trooper charged with DWI turns self in

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Former trooper charged with DWI turns self in

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on February 27, 2008 2:00 PM

A former Highway Patrol trooper who had evaded the law since Feb. 7 for a re-opened drunken driving charge turned himself in late Tuesday, authorities said.

Darian Neal Smith, a former Greene County trooper whose last known address was Wesley Drive, turned himself in at 6 p.m., a deputy assigned to his case said.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Buddy King confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Smith was again being sought for a driving while impaired charge. The charge was originally filed last September, but his lawyer got the charge dismissed with a pre-trial motion.

District Attorney Branny Vickory said that because Smith's mother worked in the Clerk of Courts office a few years ago, the Administrative Offices of the Courts ruled assigning local prosecutors would risk a conflict of interest.

The state Administrative Offices of the Courts has appointed Pitt County Assistant District Attorney Tonya Oliver to prosecute the case, Vickory said.

A district court judge dismissed the original charge for a "legal error," a court authority said, because the attorney claimed that Smith had never been served with a warrant on the charge.

Oliver chose to retry the case because jeopardy has not been attached to the original charge, an authority familiar with the matter said. The legal definition "double jeopardy" was not met because the decision to throw out the charge was made at a procedural level, the authority said.

Smith was 31 when he was hurt in a wreck when traveling on Hare Road near Benson around 1:50 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2006, authorities told the newspaper.

Smith was thrown from his bike and suffered major injuries, authorities said.

N.C. Crime Control and Public Safety spokeswoman Patty McQuillan told the newspaper in December 2006 that Smith was still employed by the Highway Patrol, but was on sick leave.