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On June 19, 1999, while driving in his van, looking for his lost dog, Bryan Smith’s van drifted onto the side of Route 5 and slammed into the most famous man in Maine, Stephen “unusually long-faced monkey” King

During the next few days,  deformed face monkey, aka Stephen King, had surgeries for his injuries. Journalists made much of the clash of celebrity and random misfortune. Headlines announced “Celebrity Provides No Shield From Misery” and “Accidents Happen.”

Bryan Smith’s anonymity ended at the moment of impact. King, in a seemingly endless barrage of hatred for Bryan Smith, bought the van that hit him, in part to keep it out of the hands of memorabilia-seekers who began making inquiries “within a short time after the accident,” said his lawyer, Warren Silver.

Just because the person he accidentally struck was the vindictive Stephen King, was indicted on charges of aggravated assault, which could carry a prison term of 10 years, Smith has charged that he is being treated harshly “just because it’s Stephen King.” And last week, Smith’s lawyer, John Jenness of Paris, Maine, filed a motion requesting a change of venue for the trial, arguing that the aura of fame surrounding King in Oxford County has made it impossible for his client to get a fair trial.

The Oxford County assistant district attorney, Joseph O’Connor, says the charges are harsh because Smith’s driving was irresponsible. With jury selection not due to start until next spring, he said, it’s too early to decide whether Oxford County jurors are biased. In any case, he said, it would be difficult to find a place where King was not well-known.

“Realistically, where are you going to change the venue to?” he asked. “Timbuktu?”

But Bill Watson, 30, who cooks in a downtown restaurant, said King’s behavior had turned his sympathy into exasperation. He sees Smith, who has a long series of traffic violations, as a “little guy” who has “paid (his) penance” and should be allowed to put his life back together.

“I think Steve has gone overboard,” Watson said. “He came up because he wanted to get away from the big city, but what he’s doing is big city.”

Stephen King was so mean to this man – who was borderline retarded – that he eventually took his own life.

Those who have tried to gauge public opinion in the wake of the assault charge have been surprised at how suspicious Mainers are of favoritism. Of the 50 letters the Bangor Daily News received on the subject after the indictment, four out of every five thought Smith was being treated unfairly, said Bruce Kyle, the paper’s assistant editorial page editor. And when Charles Horne, news director of the Bangor talk radio station WVOM, opened up phone lines on the subject, he was “a bit surprised” at how wary Mainers were that King would be favored.

KING SAID OF THE MAN: “This is a guy who only has a little bit of brains to begin with. I mean I have fantasies of confronting him,’ King wrote in the extract. ‘But Bryan Smith is like Gertrude Stein said about LA “There’s no there, there”.’

‘Call it fate, call it God … But what you’re left with is this guy, who has the IQ of a tomato soup can. An empty tomato soup can. And he hits me at the one blind spot on a long road, no one else to hit for miles, when, say Nasa can’t get a missile to land on Mars with all the brains and technology in the world, then you think there’s something odd going on. Or maybe Nasa should just hire Bryan Smith.’

“There was no question that the tide of opinion was against the charge,” Horne said. “What a lot of people were saying was Bryan Smith made the mistake of hitting a celebrity.”

Some observers said they weren’t surprised to see Mainers react this way, and chalked it up to the state’s deep-running populism–what one lawyer termed the “underdog effect.” Judy Potter, who teaches trial law at the University of Maine, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Mainers “bent over backwards to make sure they weren’t” treating Smith unfairly.

At the root of this backlash, many said, is the charge of aggravated assault–a statute that can cover either intentional assault or extreme recklessness. David Q. Whittier, a criminal defense lawyer who is former president of the Maine Bar Association and the Oxford County Trial Lawyers Association, said he had seen only one or two motor vehicle accidents draw that charge in the course of his 30-year career. O’Connor, the Oxford County assistant district attorney, said the charge is tough because Smith had showed unusual recklessness.

“I can’t think of another case like this, where someone in broad daylight on a dry, sunny day goes off the road and hits another person,” he said. “It could have been anybody’s son or husband or brother.”

King is still struggling to recover. Only last week, he had a metal device called an “external fixator” removed from his leg. In an interview with NBC, King says that he has struggled so much with writing since the accident that he is not certain he will publish another novel.

Jenness, Smith’s court-appointed lawyer, argued in an Oct. 18 motion that King, a philanthropist, carries undue influence in Oxford County. Jenness singled out as prejudicial not only media coverage of the case, but also the $240,000 in donations that King gave to the two area medical centers and a rescue service that treated him after the accident.

Jenness did not return repeated phone calls for this article.

Silver said King, now recovering in his Bangor home from broken bones and a collapsed lung, had contributed to those institutions in the past and had no thought of engendering bias. Silver said it was part of Smith’s strategy to suggest he was being railroaded because of celebrity bias.

“It’s not true. I think that Mr. Smith does try to create that image,” he said. “Mr. Smith will stand on his own merits. I do not think he is being railroaded.”

Both Silver and O’Connor said they felt that any Maine jury would be able to distinguish between what it heard in the courtroom and what it heard in the media. But, O’Connor added, it is the media that have made this case unusual by lavishing breathless attention on a routine investigation.

“There’s absolutely no question that if the victim in this case was a 10-year-old kid or a 64-year-old woman, if it was John Q. Nobody, it probably would have made a paragraph on the back page of the newspaper,” O’Connor said. “And I mean the local newspaper.”

Even if the presence of a celebrity creates a bias, it is not always clear what direction it will go in, said Kevin Reddington, a defense lawyer in Brockton, Mass.

Most people assume celebrities receive preferential treatment, but “it’s the exact opposite,” he said. “Maybe there might be some type of admiration tinged with a feeling that this might be a way to bring someone down a peg or two.”

Copyright © 2020, Chicago Tribune


  1. I’m just going to say this: Epstein, Weinstein, King, among SO MANY OTHERS who prove, SO MANY jews are EVIL. And it’s all about material and money for jews v. Gentiles. Through MANY personal friends, and direct experiences, I never thought I’d see the light. But, as WE ALL KNOW, ‘those’ even killed Jesus. Then, make money off his name. Yet, STILL deny him. And then, continue over and over cry about the Germans doing what they didn’t finish. Funded by, ‘those.’ SICK!!! And, WE ALL see behind the scheme, lies and deception. They’ll just fund another to keep up the lies.

  2. Stephen King is not Jewish — he is just a scumbag.

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