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Woman Pleads No Contest to Killing Elderly Pedestrian

Pacific Palisades resident Cambria Lee Gordon struck Howard Smerling, 82, as he crossed 26th Street in July in Santa Monica. She is sentenced to probation and community service.

The woman accused of fatally was ordered to 360 hours of community service Wednesday after pleading "no contest" to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

Pacific Palisades resident Cambria Lee Gordon, through her attorney Blair Berk, entered the plea and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation, according to Terry L. White, chief deputy of the criminal division in the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office.

Of the 360 hours of community service, 120 must be spent cleaning beaches or removing graffiti. She was also ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines, White said.

According to a Santa Monica Police Department report, Gordon was reaching for her cellphone when she crashed into 82-year-old Howard Smerling as he crossed 26th Street, throwing him into the nearby intersection, shattering his spine, wrist and pelvis.

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Gordon was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the police report. The report also stated that Gordon had just returned home from a trip to Israel three days earlier, and felt jetlagged and had experienced vertigo.

According to TMZ, Gordon is the wife of Homeland and 24 producer Howard Gordon.

Smerling had owned Brentwood Royal Cleaners before his retirement, and had handed down the business to his son and wife, who were devastated by his death. Howard was struck July 20 and succumbed to his injuries in October.

In entering her plea, Gordon did not admit guilt, but, at the same time, did not contest the charge.

The Smerling family has filed a civil suit against the Gordons, saying the misdemeanor charge doesn't go far enough.

Ted J February 09, 2012 at 12:53 AM
With Money & Power you can buy your own justice!!!!
Max Bean February 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This is very sad. I'm sorry for all involved
corner soul February 09, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Unbelievable... if it's "no contest" then whose fault is it? Personally, I think there's a strong case to be made that the city is partially to blame for having unsignalized crosswalks on a street with 35mph speed limit (read 40mph by LA drivers). If Santa Monica is serious about pedestrian safety, than these should all be stop signs or pedestrian activated traffic signals (35mph is just way too fast for a dense/commercial two lane street anyway). I bet they won't even take her license away.
Gary Kavanagh February 09, 2012 at 07:44 PM
LA County imposes a $1000 fine for reckless Frisbee and football activity on the beach as well. In the ethics of Los Angeles, killing people with a car and hitting someone with a football, it's all the same. Holding drivers really accountable, that's for Euro socialists. This is America, kill kill kill, USA USA USA, get out of my way, this is a vrooom vroom culture.
J. Smith February 09, 2012 at 08:10 PM
This is such a tragedy. I read the article linked above, "A Long Life Cut Short..." and Mr. Smerling was indeed a very special man. Due to this careless driver, he suffered a horrible and painful death. It's unbelievable that this was considered a misdemeanor. I completely agree with the comment left on the other article by lahope: "The only way to thwart the behavior of entitled, socially irresponsible individuals...is to make it a felony to kill or injure someone while talking on a cell phone. The penalties for cell phone distracted driving should be similar to the penalties for drunk driving."

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