Smith pretrial hearing set for April 5

Updated: February 23, 2007, 6:40 PM ET
Associated Press

URBANA, Ill. -- Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith pleaded not guilty Friday to drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

The 19-year-old sophomore faces a maximum of 12 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted of the felony charges. His pretrial hearing is April 5.

Smith was driving in snowy conditions Feb. 12 when the car struck a tree. Authorities say Smith and his passenger, teammate Brian Carlwell, had been drinking tequila and beer before the crash. Smith, too young to drink legally, had a blood-alcohol level after the crash that was more than twice the legal limit, prosecutors say.

Authorities say Smith believed Carlwell was dead and also contend Smith left the scene and drove the damaged car back to his apartment. Bystanders saw the car with an unconscious Carlwell inside and called police. The 19-year-old Carlwell was hospitalized for several days with a severe concussion.

Smith, a guard, has agreed to sit out the rest of the season.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press