A Norwalk man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from 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, is facing 30 days in jail, 30 hours of community service and three years probation as a result of his guilty plea to one felony count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
He is set to be sentenced March 19 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Smith struck Andrew Mallard with his vehicle as the 56-year-old victim was walking across Sunset Boulevard at Formosa Avenue in Hollywood early last April 18, then fled, authorities said.
Mallard was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smith subsequently turned himself in less than a week later at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Station, authorities said. He was subsequently released on 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, his 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, according to Australian news reports.
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.