West Plains Man Charged With Murder After Vehicle Pursuit Death

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A man from Howell County has been charged with murder in connection with a fatal motor vehicle accident that took place in West Plains Saturday.

Grayson Smith, 21, was charged Monday afternoon with 2nd degree murder and felony resisting arrest by fleeing. Bond on the charges has been set at $250,000.

A probable cause statement used as the basis of the charges in the case indicates that West Plains officer Brandon Stephens attempted to stop a dark colored vehicle, identified in a press release later issued by the department as a Nissan Maxima, on Thayer Ave. near Bill Virdon Blvd. around 12:30 am Saturday, November 25 after a signaling violation. 

The driver of that vehicle, identified as Grayson Smith, reportedly refused to stop and led officer Stephens on a chase down Broadway towards Porter Wagoner Blvd., with speeds reaching 90 mph. Stephens stated he terminated the chase near Porter Wagoner Blvd. after the suspect’s vehicle crossed the intersection at 90 mph during a red light.

After terminating the chase, another officer ahead of Stephens radioed that Smith’s vehicle was found wrecked a short distance away. The department press release stated that Smith’s vehicle continued west on Broadway over the hill past People’s Park and struck a Chevrolet Impala driven by 29-year-old Kannen Farris of West Plains. Farris’ vehicle, which was attempting to turn at the time of the crash, was cut in half due to the impact.

Smith was taken into custody at the scene of the wreck. During questioning, Smith reportedly told police that a substance found on him was synthetic marijuana, and he initially fled authorities because he couldn’t afford a traffic ticket. He was later taken to a helipad in Cabool and flown by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

Farris was taken to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, and died of his injuries a short time later.

The probable cause statement claims that while in Springfield Smith refused a blood test, but admitted to officers with the Highway Patrol that he had smoked a synthetic marijuana known as K2. K2 is treated as a controlled substance in the state of Missouri.

No court date has been set, according to online court records.

(Ed Button, Ozark Radio News)

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