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Friday, May 20, 2022

Guilty verdict acquitted of murder of father of five in road fight

SAN DIEGO. On January 18, a bench of the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a motorist who stabbed another driver seven times on South Bay Street after an argument about a road massacre.

Ricky Vernon Smith was convicted by a jury in Chula Vista and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for the November 27, 2018 murder of 36-year-old Horace Williams Jr., father of five. The jury found Smith not guilty of first-degree murder, but found him guilty of second-degree murder, as well as the charge of using a knife in the murder.

According to court testimony, the two drivers got into an altercation that continued as they traveled a series of roads in southern San Diego County, during which Williams threw a soda cup at Smith’s pickup truck and Smith rammed Williams’ minivan.

Deputy District Attorney Mackenzie Harvey told jurors that after cutting Williams one last time, Smith got out of his truck, went to the driver’s side window, and punched him.

He then left, pulled a knife from a holster strapped to his thigh, returned to the minivan and stabbed Williams several times, with the fatal blow piercing Williams’ heart, the prosecutor said. Williams also received stab wounds to his arms and legs.

Witnesses saw Williams get out of the van and fall onto the roadway, bleeding profusely. Paramedics took him to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead.

Defense attorney Brian Watkins told jurors in his closing statement that Williams was the aggressor and that he punched Smith twice in the face as Smith approached his window. It wasn’t until Williams started reaching for something near the center console that Smith pulled out his knife “as a last resort,” Watkins said.

The jury heard an 911 call made by Smith shortly after the stabbing, in which he said that Williams interrupted him and threw a drink at his truck. Smith told the dispatcher that he was following Williams to find out why he did it, and later admitted to punching and stabbing Williams. Smith said in a telephone conversation that Williams punched and that he stabbed Williams in self-defense to prevent further attacks.

Smith also said that Williams threw a drink at his car “for no reason”.

“I was just minding my own business,” he told the dispatcher. This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t bothered me.

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