HAYWARD (BCN) — A San Francisco attorney who had pleaded no contest in a hit-and-run collision that killed a bicyclist in Dublin three years ago withdrew his plea on Friday after the judge who was scheduled to sentence him recused himself in the case.
San Ramon resident Spencer Smith, 35, pleaded no contest on Nov. 25 to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing 57-year-old Bo Hu, who was visiting from China, in a collision on Dougherty and Fall Creek roads in Dublin on May 15, 2012.
Smith was arrested two days later after Dublin police identified him as the owner of a recently purchased black 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 connected with the collision. Dublin police said Smith’s car suffered extensive windshield and front-end damage and was missing parts that were recovered at the scene of the collision.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy, who accepted Smith’s pleas, was scheduled to sentence him on Friday but he said he realized that there would be a potential problem if he were to sentence Smith because of relationships he has with people who wrote letters supporting Smith.
Based on Smith’s pleas, he could have been placed on probation or sent to state prison for up to four years.
After Murphy recused himself, Smith’s attorney, Dionne Choyce, then asked to withdraw Smith’s pleas, noting that Smith has the right to be sentenced by the same judge that took the pleas.
Murphy said the case will now revert back to the pre-trial state, with Smith’s previous not-guilty pleas restored.
Smith’s case will come before a different judge on April 10. New court dates will be set at that time and Smith won’t be required to be present for that hearing.
At future hearings, Smith will have the option of re-entering no-contest pleas or going to trial.