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Nashua woman pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run accident

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

May 26. 2015 9:11PM

CARA SMITH 

NASHUA — Cara Smith, a Nashua woman accused of striking and killing a homeless man while drunk driving last year, will spend 3-6 years in prison for the offense.

In a negotiated plea deal, Smith pleaded guilty on Tuesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court to negligent homicide for the Feb. 23, 2014 hit-and-run accident on West Hollis Street that claimed the life of Robert Derome, 63, of Nashua.

Smith, 39, of 6 Satin Ave., was sentenced to 3-6 years in prison for the negligent homicide charge. She also pleaded guilty to conduct after an accident and insurance fraud, receiving suspended sentences of 3½ to 7 years in prison and 12 months in jail, respectively, according to County Attorney Nicole Thorspecken.

Thorspecken declined to comment on the disposition of the case.

Smith, who has been free on $50,000 bond, will report to prison to begin her sentence on Sept. 5.

Smith told police that she had five alcoholic beverages while out to dinner before the fatal accident, according to court documents. Smith said that during her drive home, she “felt a thump or something hitting her vehicle,” but thought someone had perhaps thrown something at her car, according to a police affidavit.

“Smith advised she slowed, and looked out her windows and did not see anyone/anything in the area, so she continued to drive home,” the affidavit states.

Smith told police that she saw several news reports indicating a person was hit and killed on West Hollis Street. Still, Smith said she did not contact police “for fear of implicating herself in the event she was not suspected as being the driver of the involved vehicle,” court records state.

According to authorities, damaged pieces of Smith’s vehicle were found at the scene of the accident, and video surveillance from different locations recorded her car traveling on West Hollis Street the night of Derome’s death. In the footage, her vehicle was spotted with two working headlights in one area of the roadway, but just one working headlight in the area past the collision, says the affidavit.

Derome, who was homeless, had been temporarily staying with a friend at the time of the accident. His injured body was discovered on the side of the road near a snow bank after the crash, and he was pronounced dead a short time later at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua. An autopsy determined that Derome suffered severe injuries to his head and pelvis from being struck by a motor vehicle.

Following the accident, Smith contacted GEICO car insurance company and filed a false online claim application stating that while she was shopping, her parked Chevy Trailblazer was damaged in the front right passenger corner.

Although a final plea deal was officially accepted this week, a previous plea offer was declined by Smith last year, according to court records.

khoughton@newstote.com


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