Life sentence upheld for repeat drug offender

September 20, 2018


HUNTINGTON — A Cabell judge upheld a sentencing Tuesday that will send an Ohio drug dealer to prison to serve a life sentence under West Virginia’s three-strike rule.

Donald “Tank” Smith, 35, originally from Detroit, was convicted in May of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance — cocaine, oxymorphone and heroin — for offenses that occurred in July and August 2016. With five drug convictions on his criminal record after that trial, prosecutors filed a recidivism charge against him, which allows a judge to send a repeat offender to jail for life.

Cabell Circuit Judge Christopher D. Chiles upheld his previous sentencing Tuesday that was in agreement with that law.

Smith was sentenced to life in prison for one drug count — which would represent the recidivism charge — and will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years. For the remaining two drug convictions, Chiles ordered that they could be served at the same time, but only after the completion of his life sentence, which will add an additional one to 15 years to his sentence.

Smith was convicted of the three drug counts after a trial in May and soon after a second trial was held to determine if Smith was the same person convicted of the past drug felonies.

At that trial, a Kentucky deputy and Marshall University police officer testified to confirm Smith’s criminal past. Smith’s original convictions were the result of a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the South Point, Ohio, and Huntington police departments.

Smith still has two remaining cases to face in Cabell County, which include a malicious wounding and robbery case. Assistant prosecutor Sharon Frazier said prosecutors planned to wait until Smith exhausts his appeal options before moving forward with the remaining cases.

In one of those cases, Huntington police allege in December 2016 Smith shot two men in the 900 block of Jackson Avenue in Huntington. The men were found by first responders with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds — one shot in the arm and one shot in the leg.

Separate charges from September 2016 allege Smith burglarized a home in the 1700 block of Artisan Avenue in Huntington with a gun, which he used to strike a man in the head before fleeing the scene.

Smith is represented by defense attorneys Kerry Nessel and Abe Saad.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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