Man charged with reckless driving with kids in car released from jail

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A 25-year-old Verbena man who is facing charges alleging he attempted to fraudulently repossess a man’s vehicle before injuring the victim and fleeing the scene while driving recklessly with small children in the car has been released from the Shelby County Jail after posting bonds totaling $33,800 in December 2016.

Smitherman

Smitherman

Phillip Merl Smitherman Jr., who lists an address on Chilton County 24 in Verbena, posted bond on Dec. 2, 2016, after spending nearly a year in jail on two felony counts of first-degree attempted theft of property, two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, one misdemeanor count of third-degree assault and one misdemeanor count of harassment.

He is set to appear in Shelby County Circuit Court on May 16 for a status call.

The Alabaster Police Department arrested Smitherman on Dec. 11, 2015. The charges came after Smitherman allegedly “attempted to repossess (an) automobile that was not due to be repossessed” by attempting to take custody of an Alabaster man’s 1998 GMC Suburban. When the victim confronted the suspect, Smitherman allegedly fled the scene in his own vehicle, striking the victim with his vehicle in the process.

Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney previously said a 3-year-old child and a 4-year-old child were riding as passengers in Smitherman’s vehicle when the suspect allegedly fled the scene and proceeded to drive recklessly. Smitherman was “a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody” of the children, according to court documents.

Alabaster police received several calls reporting a reckless driver traveling through the city, and attempted to intercept the suspect at several locations. Police caught up to the suspect and apprehended him after Smitherman collided with an Alabama Power truck in the 800 block of U.S. 31.

The children were not injured in the incident, and were placed in safe custody after Smitherman’s arrest, Rigney said.