By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – Tragedy met tragedy Friday when a former IRS agent, pardoned by exiting-Gov. Haley Barbour, admitted he was drunk when his vehicle struck and killed Okolona teenager Charity Smith in 2011.
Harry Russ Bostick, 57, was sentenced to 15 years in state custody, with eight to be served and seven suspended for his guilty plea to the DUI-death charge associated with the accident.
He also was ordered to pay Smith’s funeral costs.
Bostick, who described himself as a recovering alcoholic, told Judge James L. Roberts Jr. and others in the Pontotoc County courtroom that he was “sincerely sorry” for causing Smith’s death.
“I thought I was on the road to recovery until this happened,” he said. “I will forever be sorry.”
Moments before, Charity Smith’s mother, Linda, wept as she read a prepared statement, saying her daughter hoped to be a writer and one day make the New York Times Best-Seller List.
“I will never see her grow up,” the Okolona woman said, often halting her speech to hold back her tears. “I will never feel her arms around my neck.”
Bostick made national headlines in January 2012 when Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned him for a DUI-third conviction and ordered leniency to more than 200 others as he exited office.
Friday, Bostick’s attorney Anthony Farese of Ashland told Roberts that his client’s life began a downward spiral after the death of his college-age son in a house fire.
How much state time Bostick will serve isn’t known, but rarely do well-behaved inmates serve their full sentences in prison unless it’s ordered day-for-day. He was handcuffed and immediately taken into custody after the hearing.
The Smiths were expected to sign up for a state system of notice, if Bostick applies for early release or parole.
Bostick was indicted May 10, 2012, on three counts of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and DUI-death. After his guilty plea, District Attorney Trent Kelly asked the court to send the other charges to the file.
Charity Smith was 18 when she died in the Oct. 7, 2011, accident as Bostick’s vehicle collided with hers on U.S. Highway 278 in Pontotoc County. Her sister was seriously injured.
Kelly told the court that Bostick’s blood alcohol content measured after the accident was 0.16 percent, which is two times higher than 0.08 percent standard for legal intoxication. He also said Bostick’s vehicle speed was calculated at 73 mph in a 55 mph zone.
At the time, Bostick was serving a one-year sentence on house arrest for a 2010 DUI-third offense.
He also was participating in the local drug court program, for which completion would mean suspension of four more years on his sentence.
Three months later, he was in the Lafayette County Detention Center for violating that house arrest sentence when he learned of Barbour’s pardon, which erased his DUI-third conviction.