James City man convicted in attempt to steal car with kids inside

WILLIAMSBURG — A James City man accused of attempting to steal a car with a family inside was convicted on three charges Thursday related to the 2013 incident.

Craig T. Smith, 42, pleaded guilty in Circuit Court to two counts of assault and battery and attempted grand larceny, a felony. Prior to his plea, defense attorney Leigh Major withdrew a motion filed in February that stated Smith's sanity at the time of the incident was an issue at trial. An attempted carjacking charge was dropped by the prosecution as part of the plea agreement.

Around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2013, a man drove his family to the 7-Eleven in the 8700 block of Pocahontas Trail, according to Maureen Kufro, assistant commonwealth's attorney. She said he turned the car off, left the keys inside and went inside with his wife, leaving their children in the parked vehicle.

Kufro said the couple saw a man, later identified as Smith, next to the Slurpee machine. Their four children, ages 5-13, were in the car with the doors locked and the windows open when Smith left the store and eventually approached, according to police.

Police said Smith reached in through a window and unlocked the door. A boy in the car was attempting to hold the door closed when Smith grabbed his arm, Kufro said. She added that the boy pinched Smith, forcing him to let go.

Kufro said one child ran inside the store and told the parents someone was trying to get into the car. At the same time, a 13-year-old girl had grabbed the car keys and exited the vehicle, according to police. Smith then grabbed the girl's arm, pinned her against the car and began yelling at her for her to hand over the keys, police said.

Police said the girl began screaming, which drew the attention of a cousin standing outside, who called to Smith to ask what he was doing. Smith released the girl and walked away from the business, police noted.

Kufro said all witnesses would have testified the man who attempted to enter the car was missing three fingers on one hand, which she later said Smith had lost in a car accident. Smith was found by officers a short time later on Pocahontas Trail.

Smith told police he had spoken with the man while in the store and the man was going to give him a ride, according to Kufro. She said she had information from Smith's mother that he does suffer from mental health issues and had a severe drug addiction stemming from the car accident years ago.

Sentencing is set for November. Judge Michael E. McGinty said Smith could face a combined 12 years in prison and a $7,500 fine.

Robertson can be reached at 757-345-2342.