URBANA – Jamar Smith, the University of Illinois basketball player accused of being intoxicated, crashing into a tree and then leaving the scene of the accident with an injured teammate, will be arraigned Friday on felony charges.
Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore from Peoria, left the team last week in the wake of the Feb. 12 crash that left Brian Carlwell, 19, of Maywood severely injured with a concussion. Carlwell was hospitalized until Friday but appeared at the UI home game Sunday.
Tuesday morning, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz sought a warrant for Smith's arrest, which Judge Tom Difanis signed. Difanis set bond at $10,000. UI police had initially ticketed Smith with improper lane usage.
Smith now faces felony charges of aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. He faces extended penalties if convicted of the DUI charge, because of great bodily harm to Carlwell.
Champaign County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Young said Smith turned himself in at the Champaign County jail about 2 p.m. Wednesday. He posted 10 percent of the bond and was released within minutes. He is due to be arraigned Friday, Young said.
According to a prepared statement from Smith's attorney Mark Lipton of Champaign, Smith will plead innocent to the charges and demand a jury trial.
Lipton said, "Even if the state had not sought a warrant, Jamar would have immediately submitted to the jurisdiction of the court upon the filing of charges."
"Jamar and I are confident that this matter can be appropriately resolved in due course," Lipton said. "Neither Jamar nor I will be attempting to litigate this matter in the media. Much of the information already disseminated in the media has not been accurate. The proper place to discuss the facts and circumstances of the case is in the courtroom."
Lipton repeated an earlier statement that Smith's primary concern has been with Carlwell and Smith was "pleased and thankful that his prayers for Brian's speedy and full recovery appear to have been answered."
According to Rietz, reports from UI police indicate Smith and Carlwell had been drinking beer and tequila earlier that evening at a woman's apartment in the College Fields complex in Savoy, where Smith lives.
Sometime after 11 p.m., the two left in Smith's 1996 Lexus and were headed north on South First Street in Champaign when Smith crossed the southbound lanes and struck a tree, a police report said.
Smith then drove the car, badly damaged on the passenger side, back to the College Fields complex at the southwest corner of First Street and Curtis Road, Rietz said.
A female witness called 911, which led to discovery of the damaged car and the injured Carlwell. Rietz said Smith and unnamed basketball teammates were in the apartment and did not call 911. The prosecutor said Smith was apparently distraught, believing Carlwell to be dead.
He remained at the apartment for about two hours before he, too, went to Carle for treatment of a slight concussion.
Rietz said a state crime lab test done on blood drawn from Smith at the hospital shows his blood alcohol level was 0.17 percent, but under a "zero tolerance" law in Illinois, anyone under the age of 21 who is caught with any amount of alcohol in his or her system is in violation of the law.