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Minnesota man who killed pedestrian accused of driving on meth again

David Andrew Smithson

A Duluth man is accused of driving under the influence of methamphetamine about a block from the scene where he once struck and killed a pedestrian while impaired by the same drug.

David Andrew Smithson, 30, was arrested earlier this month after a state trooper found his stopped car blocking traffic on the Interstate 35 off-ramp to Grand Avenue in Duluth, according to court records. He allegedly admitted to using meth and heroin earlier that day.

Smithson's arrest came less than seven months after he was released from prison for killing 37-year-old Brian Respler, a father of four who was walking along Grand Avenue when he was struck by Smithson's van on Dec. 19, 2015.

Smithson, who received a four-year sentence after pleading guilty to a felony count of criminal vehicular homicide, was released from prison in August and remains under supervision.

His new arrest came March 6, when the Minnesota State Patrol responded to the off-ramp on the report of a vehicle blocking traffic at 1:15 p.m. The caller reported that the driver was bobbing his head, as if he was having a seizure, according to a criminal complaint.

A trooper approached Smithson, who appeared to be either passed out or sleeping in the front passenger seat. Smithson "appeared startled" and did not know where he was, the complaint said.

The trooper noticed "involuntary jerking" of Smithson's hands and arms. The defendant admitted that he had been driving, saying he was stopped due to traffic, and then crawled into the passenger seat and fell asleep, according to the complaint.

Smithson's shoes were found under the steering wheel. As he stepped out of the car, he told the trooper that he had a needle in a sock on the passenger-side floor, the complaint said. The trooper noted the needle contained what appeared to be meth residue.

Smithson's allegedly acknowledged using both meth and heroin that day and agreed to field-sobriety tests. He had "extremely constricted pupils" and displayed several indications of impairment, the trooper reported.

A warrant was later obtained for a blood draw, with test results still pending.

Smithson had amphetamine, methamphetamine, THC and morphine in his system when he struck and killed Respler on the 6200 block of Grand Avenue. He later admitted that he dozed off at the wheel, opening his eyes just in time to see Respler as his van crossed the sidewalk.

The homicide conviction was Smithson's third conviction for driving under the influence of controlled substances.

He is now charged with first-degree driving while impaired, a felony carrying a maximum of seven years in prison. He appeared in State District Court on Tuesday, with his next hearing set for April 30.

Smithson remains in the St. Louis County Jail without bail, due to the alleged violation of supervised release in the homicide case.

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