A Norwalk man was charged Tuesday in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian who had spent more than a decade behind bars in Australia before being exonerated of murder.
Kristopher Ryan Smith, 20, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.
Smith, who could face up to four years in state prison if convicted as charged, is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Aug. 9, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
Smith allegedly struck Andrew Mallard in the early morning on April 18, as the 56-year-old victim was walking across Sunset Boulevard at Formosa Avenue, then drove off, according to Deputy District Attorney Rose DeMattia. Mallard was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smith turned himself in April 23 at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Station and was subsequently freed on $50,000 bond, jail records show.
According to Australian news reports, Mallard was convicted of the 1994 murder of jewelry store owner Pamela Lawrence in Perth and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. A journalist, a politician, Mallard’s family and lawyers who took on his case pro bono mounted an effort to prove his innocence, and Australia’s highest court tossed out his conviction in 2005.
Two police officials involved in the case subsequently stepped down, and Mallard subsequently received more than $3.25 million in compensation from the Australian government, according to Australian media reports.
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