Former Leland officer pleads guilty to attempted murder in South Carolina

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Howard Henry Smith
Howard Henry Smith

A former Leland police lieutenant was sentenced to 20 years in prison after recently pleading guilty to attempted murder charges in South Carolina.

Howard Henry Smith Jr., 40, of Supply, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in Horry County General Sessions Circuit Court last week, according to a clerk of court. Circuit Court Judge Larry B. Hyman sentenced Smith to 20 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Smith was booked at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County, South Carolina, on Sept. 20 after he reportedly led authorities on a vehicle chase from Brunswick County into South Carolina. Deputies were attempting to serve warrants on Smith when he fled, according to Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Emily Flax.

“Multiple agencies, including the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, pursued Smith, who was armed with a gun and firing shots at officers during the duration of the pursuit,” Flax said. “The chase continued into Horry County and ended on Highway 31, where Smith was taken into custody by South Carolina officials.”

Smith was originally charged in Horry County, South Carolina, with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of possession of a firearm and ammunition and one count of failure to stop for blue lights. As part of his plea agreement, all other charges in the case were dismissed.

In Brunswick County, Smith was indicted Sept. 22 on charges of three counts of attempted murder, three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm, discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle and felony flee to elude arrest with a motor vehicle.

The Circuit Court judge ordered that the sentence in South Carolina be served concurrently with any sentence that may arise from his charges in Brunswick County. But, according to Senior Assistant Solicitor Stephen Grooms, that portion of Smith’s sentencing will be amended from court records this week. Smith must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence in South Carolina before he is eligible for parole, Grooms said.

The district attorney’s office in Brunswick County will have to initiate Smith’s extradition back to North Carolina to face charges in Brunswick County, Grooms said.

Smith was hired with the Leland Police Department in November 2011. He resigned as a lieutenant on May 7, 2013, according to Leland Town Manager David Hollis.

Christina Haley is a crime reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or Christina.h@portcitydaily.com.