Smith pleads not guilty in 104 crash that killed four


PORTSMOUTH- A Piketon man pleaded not guilty Monday on dozens of charges connected to the May vehicle crash deaths of a mother and three children.

On Friday, May 24, Gage Smith, 22, was behind the wheel of a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier alleged to have crossed left of center to pass another vehicle. Smith’s vehicle then hit a pickup truck southbound on Ohio 104 in Morgan Township. He is also alleged to have been driving impaired when he lost control trying to pass another northbound vehicle.

In the vehicle driven by Smith were Courtney D. Copas, 28, also of Piketon, and three children: Navy A. Copas, 4, Madison Q. Copas, 6, and Xavier Smith, 5. All three children died at the scene of the crash and were not wearing seatbelts.

Two of the children belonged to Courtney Copas, who later died at Grant Medical Center in Columbus.

The indictment against Smith includes 47 charges, including multiple counts of murder, aggravated vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and felonious assault.

Local attorney Shawn Stratton has been appointed to defend Smith.

“Mr. Smith entered a plea of not guilty and a bond hearing has been set for Friday,” Stratton said.

Smith was arraigned Monday in the Scioto County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Mark Kuhn. According to court records, Smith will appear in court again at 8:30 a.m., Friday, July 5, for both a bond hearing and a pretrial hearing.

“The public can rest assured we will zealously prosecute this matter,” said Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman. “With regard to the facts and circumstances in this case, we will save our comments for the jury trial. We appreciate the public’s interest in this case and would ask for their thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims.”

Smith is currently lodged in the Scioto County Jail.

Reach Lori McNelly at [email protected] or at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928. © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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