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Nurse sentenced after running over boyfriend

A nurse received a light sentence after she ran over her boyfriend with her vehicle and drove away, leaving him behind with a broken pelvis, leg and ribs.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Barnack took pity on a tearful Beth Kathleen Smith, 39, on Wednesday and found her guilty only of a misdemeanor charge of failure to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person. She received no prison time or probation, although her driver's license will be suspended for one year.

"My inclination is to let you get on with your lives," Barnack said to Smith and her boyfriend, Richard Scott Conley. The two are now engaged.

Conley, 46, said if Smith had been convicted of felony failure to perform the duties of a driver, she would never have been able to work as a nurse again. Smith pleaded guilty and the judge had discretion to label the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

"I'm grateful to the court and the judge," said Conley, who still walks with a limp after being run over on Sept. 30, 2013.

Smith, who lived in Nevada at the time of the incident and now lives in Arizona, had been traveling with Conley to Alaska to put down her childhood horse. Smith was separated from her husband at the time and Conley was on the verge of being granted a divorce, Conley said.

The prosecution characterized their relationship as an affair.

They spent the night at the Green Springs Inn on Highway 66 outside Ashland. An argument they had been having over the future of their relationship continued into the next day, when Smith tried to drive away, said Smith's defense attorney, Garren Pedemonte.

Conley came outside naked and jumped on the hood of the car. Smith tried to maneuver around him for 20 to 30 minutes but then drove over him, Pedemonte said.

The prosecution pointed out that Smith drove away and made a phone call to a friend, who urged her to return to the scene and help Conley. Instead, she continued driving down the mountainous road to Ashland. She later returned to the scene, where Conley was being aided by medical personnel.

The prosecution argued Conley would have died of his injuries if he hadn't been found by an inn caretaker.

Conley was taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. He said he returned to work part-time in his career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist six weeks after he was discharged from the hospital, then was able to work full-time two weeks later.

Conley said he would like to thank all the medical personnel involved in his treatment. He said Smith has been "an integral part of my recovery" and that he loves her dearly.

He said he was acting inappropriately by trying to stop Smith from driving away.

From the beginning of the case, Conley was against Smith being prosecuted.

The prosecution said he was so uncooperative he had to be threatened with charges of perjury.

Smith, who was crying during much of the hearing, said afterward she was pleased with the judge's decision in the case.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or by email at valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.