From Decatur County Prosecutor Nathan Harter
Mark Smith was sentenced on November 16, 2022 by Judge Tim Day in the Decatur Circuit Court, after having been found guilty by a jury of his peers during a trial conducted October 18 and 19 of 2022. The jury found Smith guilty of the lead charge of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, a Level 5 Felony, and Resisting Law Enforcement, a Level 6 Felony.
A review of publicly available documents indicates that on October 18, 2021, Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington and Deputy Marshal Damon Land attempted to detain Mark Smith to investigate calls regarding a suspicious person. Before the inquiry could begin, Smith ran from the officers on foot. They pursued and ultimately engaged him in a physical altercation, during which Smith was subdued, and which resulted in injury to Land.
The State was represented by Prosecuting Attorney Nate Harter in the jury trial and at the sentencing hearing. Harter noted gratitude for the jury’s service. “I am always so pleased with juries in Decatur County. They consistently take the time to be thorough and thoughtful. Here, I think it was 9pm before they finally returned verdicts, genuinely discussing and debating the merits of the case. That’s all any prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant, or judge could ask for.”
At the sentencing hearing, Harter recommended a sentence of three years in prison and one additional year on probation, consistent with the wishes of the injured officer. In support of that, Harter pointed to Smith’s long criminal history, including Operating While Intoxicated, Intimidation on a Law Enforcement Officer, Neglect of a Dependent, Resisting Law Enforcement, Battery Resulting Bodily Injury (twice), Public Intoxication, Operating with an ACE of .08 or more, Minor Consuming (three times), and Possession of Hash Oil.
Mr. Smith did not testify at sentencing. Judge Day ultimately imposed a sentence of 525 days in jail plus 570 days of probation to hold Mr. Smith accountable in the future. A condition of probation is to pay Land’s medical bills.
Harter expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “Damon Land and Joe Talkington came to work from an off-duty status to respond to requests for help from residents there, and ultimately got into a street fight with Mr. Smith. I know they appreciate all the support the people of Westport provide to them, and on that October day, they certainly earned it. Mr. Smith may not have gotten the world’s longest sentence, but I hope he and others learn a simple lesson about running from and fighting the police.”