Lakeesha Smith pleads not guilty in death of Tundun Lawani

Mugshot of accused hit-and-run driver Lakeesha Smith, 33, of Galesburg. Smith is being charged in the death of Tundun Lawani ’14. (Courtesy of Knox County Jail)

The accused driver in the hit-and-run incident that killed Tundun Lawani ’14 last month entered a not guilty plea Wednesday, and the trial may begin as early as February, according to WGIL radio.

Lakeesha Smith, 33, of Galesburg, pleaded not guilty Wednesday during her arraignment before Knox County Circuit Court Judge Scott Shipplett. Smith was arrested following the October 28 incident and is being charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury or death.

According to WGIL, a “pre-trial conference” is scheduled for Feb. 4, and the trial may begin two weeks after that. Shipplett also denied a request to reduce bond for Smith to $25,000, citing her prior felony convictions.

Smith had no prior record of DUI, but was cited twice in 2006 for driving with a revoked license, according to Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker.

In Galesburg, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery in 2003 and disorderly conduct this past April, according to police records. At the time of the incident, she was on probation for a retail theft in Peoria County in 2010. She was also convicted of check fraud in Peoria County in 2005.

If convicted, Smith may face over 30 years in prison and additional fines.

The Knox Student will resume full coverage of the trial and efforts to improve pedestrian safety during winter term.

Tags:  hit-and-run Knox College Knox County Courthouse Lakeesha Smith Tundun Lawani

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Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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