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GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS: Jury convicts woman for killing Charlotte Co. Deputy

Deadly crash on I-75 killed Deputy Christopher Taylor in November 2022
cassandra smith zoom court appearance
Posted at 1:30 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 21:45:17-05

PUNTA GORDA, Fla — A Charlotte County jury convicted a woman, Friday, in the death of Deputy Christopher Taylor.

Cassandra Smith is guilty of DUI manslaughter, Vehicular homicide, and two counts of DUI damage to property or another person.

The four day trial ended Friday afternoon. The jury took about an hour to reach their verdict.

Smith was convicted in the November 2022 crash that killed 23-year-old deputy Christopher Taylor. Smith was drunk and drifted off the highway and hit Deputy Taylor's patrol car, which he was standing outside of while performing a traffic stop on another driver.

Jurors saw police camera video of the crash and the aftermath. They also heard 911 calls made right after the crash.

On one call, Smith said, “I think I may have killed a person,” and “I’m pretty sure I just killed somebody.” When the 911 dispatcher asked her the make and model of her car she laughed and said, “I have no idea, it’s a rental.”

Victoria Mazy, the dispatcher, was one of the witnesses on the stand. She said it is common to have to encourage callers to focus because they’re in traumatic situations. However, she says, this call required much more redirection than she normally has with 911 callers.

“I just need to go take my anxiety meds right now because I’m pretty sure I killed somebody," Smith said as Mazy was trying to inform her to turn on her hazard lights and ask other questions about the scene.

Jurors were also able to watch video of Smith buying a Four Loko about a half hour before the crash. When the alcoholic beverage was found at the scene, it was reportedly still cold.

The homicide investigator, Trooper Matthew Sill, who came to the scene said an alcoholic odor came from Smith’s mouth when he spoke to her.

“She had the bloodshot eyes, the thick tongue, slurred speech, she was very carefree... not the typical response you get from someone involved in a crash like that, she definitely had signs of impairment," he said.

Smith's blood sample came back at .258 both times it was sampled, more than three times the legal limit. It was taken for the first time this night about four hours after the crash.

A Fox 4 investigation revealed Smith has a history of DUI arrests. One, out of Palm Beach County, resulted in a court order prohibiting her from drinking alcohol for 12 months — a stipulation that expired more than two months before the deadly crash.