UTAH STATE PRISON A heartbroken family begged the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole Tuesday to keep locked up the man who killed a little boy four years ago in a drunken-driving rampage.
"The bottom line is that this man should be in jail for a lifetime" Desmond Smith, 15, said in urging the state not to grant a parole date to Tory Lee Jacques. "It won't bring Buddha back, it won't bring peace, but it's the closest we can come right now."
Then Desmond, who also was critically injured in the crash that killed 6-year-old Darius "Buddha" Smith, directed his comments to the inmate sitting before him.
"When you killed him, you didn't just kill my little brother, you killed my best friend," Desmond Smith said.
Cheryl Hansen, who presided over the hearing for the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, detailed the crime for which Jacques was convicted of automobile homicide and two counts of DUI resulting in serious bodily injury.
Loaded on pain pills, marijuana, alcohol and cocaine, Jacques, then 21, angrily left his home the night of Oct. 25, 2003, and took his mother's car without asking. He got into a confrontation with a neighbor, squealed away from that location and drove recklessly through the neighborhood, clipping another man's car and leg, then fleeing the scene.
Shortly after that, he hit the Smith family, who was walking to a Magna McDonald's that night.
Six-year-old Darius was killed instantly. He had just finished his first week of kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School.
The impact of the crash knocked out then-11-year-old Desmond's teeth, broke his leg, damaged a knee and gave him a concussion. His mother arrived at the hospital to find doctors stitching the boy's ear back to his head.
Buddha's dad, Earl Smith, was knocked unconscious.
Then-9-year-old Autumn was thrown 20 feet and wedged between the car's front tire and a chain-link fence. She had a broken right femur and double compound fracture of the left femur. Her spine was injured and she had swelling and fluid on the brain.
In a letter to the board, Autumn Smith said doctors need to remove a steel rod from her leg and she will be back in a wheelchair. "I've always wanted to be a cheerleader," she wrote. But deep scars on her legs prevent her from trying out "I'm afraid everyone will laugh at me and make fun of me and my scars."
Most of the audience cried as the children's mother, Liza Smith, spoke at Tuesday's hearing. "I do believe people change, but three to four years is not enough time," she said, calling Jacques a "monster who has taken everything from me and my children."
The children's stepfather, Eddie Nunn, said Darius won't be able to graduate from high school, go on an LDS mission or get a driver's license. "He won't go to college or ever be a father," Nunn said. "It was all over like that," he said, snapping his fingers.
Jacques expressed his remorse and said he has done what he can to be able to contribute to society when he gets out of prison.
"To the victims, I am truly deeply sorry from the bottom of my heart for everything I have done to them," he said at the hearing.
Although Jacques did not bring up his personal past, Hansen outlined his criminal history, which she said the board would consider in deciding whether to set a parole date shoplifting at age 10, possession of a dangerous weapon at age 12, lewdness involving a child at 13, possession of drug paraphernalia and assault at age 14 and alcohol possession and consumption at 16.
The boy had been abandoned by his biological father, had been abused by a stepfather and then had developed a loving relationship with a new stepdad, Hansen said. The young man got back on track about age 18 with a mentor in his new stepfather, but in a traumatic turn of events, the new stepdad took his own life by hanging himself in the family's basement. It was Jacques who cut the man down. That event seemingly changed Jacques' life.
About 18 members of Jacques' family showed up at the hearing. He turned to his family after the hearing, crying, and raised a fist to them. His grandmother, Marj Judd, called out "I love you."
"I love you guys," Jacques said as he was led from the room. "Thanks for coming."
After the hearing, Jacques' sister, Dixie Fails, said her brother is working hard to turn his life around. He completed an intensive drug and alcohol treatment program in prison, has done volunteer work and is getting a degree in automotive engineering.
"He is going to change his life," Fails told reporters."He's a wonderful little boy," Judd said of her grandson, "who had a terrible accident."