Wrong-way driver in fatal I-70 crash claims she is victim, too

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COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A 26-year-old Columbia woman who caused an accident that killed a father of two on Interstate-70 could face a new trial after an appeals court tossed out her involuntary manslaughter conviction.

Her attorney argues that she is also a victim, a point she wasn't able to argue in court.

Thomas David Sullivan

Thomas David Sullivan

On February 25, 2012, Kelli Smith was driving the wrong way on I-70, about halfway between Columbia and St. Louis when she hit Thomas David Sullivan, 35, as he was driving home to St. Louis from a job in Kansas City.

Prosecutors said Smith went to several Columbia bars before she traveled for at least seven miles, going west in the eastbound lanes of I-70. According to the blood alcohol test, at the time of the accident her blood-alcohol content was 0.085 percent, just above the legal limit.

FOX 2 in St. Louis reports that oddly, Smith wasn't wearing pants or even underwear when she was found after the crash. She also had no purse or phone when she hit Sullivan's car head on.

Smith was injured and during her examination and treatment, doctors noted what appeared to be finger pry marks on her inner thighs.

Courtesy: FOX2

Courtesy: FOX2

“A doctor and four nurses felt so strongly about this that they took the very highly unusual step of performing a rape examination on an unconscious patient to preserve that evidence,” Jennifer Bukowsky, Smith's attorney told FOX 2.

Bukowsky said she had evidence that Smith was the victim of date rape and given the so-called date rape drug. She contends Smith wasn't drunk on alcohol. She thinks Smith was slipped a date rape drug, then regained consciousness enough to escape after being assaulted.

Smith and her attorney

Smith and her attorney

Bukowsky claims Missouri Highway Patrol investigators were not interested in looking into what happened as far as a possible drugging or rape.  She explained that they didn't seize Kelli Smith's pants, found crumpled in the back seat.

“One of her high-heeled shoes was found back here, too and it’s above that that we have these kind of markings, which appear to me that could have been hand prints that could have occurred during the sexual assault.”

She says the car was a possible crime scene that Bukowsky says investigators ignored.
smith's car

When investigator Eric Stacks was on the stand, Bukowsky questioned him about Smith's internal injuries.
Click here for more on the trial testimony that Bukowsky says is absurd. She says Stacks did not know the placement of the cervix in the female anatomy.

While Smith's blood-alcohol percentage exceeded the legal limit, Bukowsky had questions about how the trooper stored the blood. She said he appeared to violate Highway Patrol policy.

Bukowsky explained the tube of blood… “was with Miller in his car for 59 hours and 51 minutes because he drove around and kept it in a heated shed at his house.  Then it was left for about a week in a room in the courthouse.”

The jury convicted her in December 2014 of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced her to five years in prison.

The Missouri Court of Appeals threw out the case in December 2015.  Smith is out on bond waiting to see if she'll face new charges.

The Highway Patrol said it couldn't comment on this investigation because Smith's case remains open.

Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV

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