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Opp man could face 10 years for leaving fatal accident scene

A Covington County jury deliberated less than two hours before convicting Nathaniel Markeith Smith, 34, of Opp, of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death, according to a press release from the Covington County District Attorney’s office.

Evidence presented at trial showed that, on April 1, 2017, Larry Hudson was driving his motorcycle on Beulah Church Road when Smith, who was driving in the opposite direction, turned in front of Hudson and the two vehicles collided at 6:50 p.m. Hudson was thrown from the motorcycle and later died from his injuries. Smith left the scene of the accident.

The next afternoon, Smith reported to Opp Police Department that he awoke to find his truck had been “hit.” Smith denied to officers that he had driven his truck or knew how it had been damaged, the press release said.

Opp’s Officer Dean Polk realized that the truck matched the description of the truck in the accident the previous day and notified Alabama State Trooper, James Nelms, who was assigned to the investigation. Nelms matched a piece of a bumper and a tail light found at the accident scene to Smith’s truck.

The state also presented forensic evidence from Smith’s cell phone, based on work by SBI Special Agent Brian Harvin, the press release said.

The evidence showed that Harvin had contacted friends about needing someone to take to do body work on his truck, and had texted a family member, “I’m going to jail.”

Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter prosecuted the case.

Circuit Judge Lex Short set sentencing for July.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said the state will ask for the maximum sentence. Leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death is a Class C felony and has a sentencing range of up to 10 years imprisonment. Smith is being held without bond pending sentencing.