Judge follows jury lead, sentences Smoot to 8 months for manslaughter

‘Smoot could be out by Christmas,’ says commonwealth’s attorney

Judge Parker declines order for restitution to victim’s family

In sentencing Flint Hill resident Randy Smoot to eight months in jail on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, Rappahannock County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker followed the recommendations the jury handed down in August after Smoot’s three-day trial for murder.

In October 2017, during an altercation with Harris Hollow resident Jonas “Jay” Alther in the latter’s driveway, Smoot knocked the victim unconscious. Alther later died of his injuries.

The Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office initially charged Smoot with first-degree murder and assault. He was later indicted on second-degree murder, which under Virginia code is punishable by not less than five nor more than 40 years in prison.

During his trial, instead of finding Smoot guilty of murder, the Rappahannock County jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and later recommended he serve eight months in jail and pay a fine.

Sentencing guidelines for voluntary manslaughter are one to 10 years in the state penitentiary; not more than 12 months in jail; a fine; or not more than 12 months in jail and a fine.

The jury verdict represented “the conscience of the community,” Judge Parker told those gathered in the courtroom for Tuesday’s sentencing.

In addition to the jail time, Parker ordered Smoot to undergo one year of post-release supervised probation.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff had asked for three years’ probation, one and a half years to be supervised, saying the extended time was “appropriate given Smoot’s criminal history.”

According to his criminal record, Smoot, 48, has been charged with 24 separate criminal offenses since 1993 — a few related to the same case — ranging from accusations of malicious wounding to assault and battery while brandishing a weapon to three cases of driving while intoxicated within a five year period. His criminal record shows that charges were dismissed in a majority of the cases, most of them in Rappahannock County courts.

Meanwhile, Parker declined a request in court this week to order Smoot to pay restitution to the Alther family for medical costs and funeral expenses.

Alther’s family, the judge said, “can seek relief [through the civil courts].”

It is not known whether Alther’s family will in fact file a civil suit against Smoot.

In a brief interview after the sentencing hearing, Goff said Smoot would be required to serve 85 percent of the eight-month sentence, but would also receive credit for jail time already served.

“Smoot could be out by Christmas,” the commonwealth’s attorney said.

About Patty Hardee 284 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.