Press Release Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lee County H. Fuller Cridlin

In the most recent Press Release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lee County, H. Fuller Cridlin regarding the official conclusion of the shooting/vehicle crash that occurred in the Jasper Section of Lee County this past March. Fuller stated,
My office has reviewed all the evidence collected by the Virginia State Police, and other assisting agencies in the investigation of a vehicle crash that occurred on March 10th, 2019, in which the occupants of the vehicle, Bailey Smith (Smith age 21) and Emeri Connery (Connery age 26), first cousins were found deceased with gunshot injuries causing both deaths. Earlier that afternoon the cousins had attended a wedding in Big Stone Gap, Va. They had also spent time in Johnson City with friends, visiting a couple of bars.
An opened container of alcohol was found in the vehicle. Blood samples collected from two separate areas of Smith’s body showed his blood alcohol content or BAC at .134 and .158 respectively. The legal limit is .08 meaning that Smith’s BAC was nearly double the legal limit. Connery’s BAC was below the legal limit.
Shortly before 4:00am (time had advanced 2 hours, due to Daylight Savings), Smith’s vehicle crashed into a culvert near mile marker 28.3 on Highway 23 North in the Jasper Section of Lee County. A forensic examination of the vehicle’s event data recorder or EDR revealed that there was no acceleration or intentional braking in the seconds before the crash. Analysis of physical evidence on scene revealed that the driver took no evasive maneuvers to prevent the crash, indicating that the driver Smith, was incapacitated before the crash.
Blood spatter analysis confirmed that the shooting occurred in the vehicle before the crash. This is due to no significant visible indications of blood stains on either side of the air bags, but a great deal of blood spatter on the windows directly behind the airbags. This indicates that the shots were fired before the airbags deployed.
We conclude, in agreement with investigators, forensic scientists, and medical examiners, that Connery’s death was a homicide and that Smith’s death was a suicide, and that no other individuals or vehicles were involved in the shooting.
The autopsies, ballistics report, event data recorder from the vehicle, blood spatter analysis, and physical evidence from the scene collectively and definitely show that all activity was confined to the vehicle, that Smith and Connery were the only occupants of the vehicle; that Smith was highly intoxicated and operating the motor vehicle; that Smith’s firearm discharged and killed Connery; and that Smith died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from his firearm before the vehicle crashed.  The case is now officially closed.

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