Driver accused of rear-ending and stabbing Laguna Beach doctor in Dana Point pleads not guilty
A Long Beach man accused of rear-ending a Laguna Beach doctor while he was cycling and then stabbing him to death in Dana Point on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to one count of murder on Friday.
The defendant, 39-year-old Vanroy Evan Smith, made his first court appearance in Santa Ana Friday morning. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted as charged.
Investigators allege he was driving a white Lexus near Pacific Coast Highway and Crown Valley Parkway that struck a bike ridden by Michael John Mammone, 58. He is accused of then getting out of the car and stabbing the victim with a knife.
Bystanders intervened and detained Smith. But Mammone died as a result of his injuries at a hospital.
A bicycle with a mangled rear tire sat on its side in an intersection surrounded by police tape Wednesday evening. Flowers hung from a nearby street light pole the following morning.
Mammone worked as an emergency physician at Providence Mission Hospital. The crash and assault happened less than 1.5 miles away from the Laguna Beach facility where he worked.
“We stand in solidarity with Providence Mission Hospital of Laguna Beach, the family and those affected, and pray for healing during this difficult time,” Laguna Beach City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said in a statement.
Providence Mission Hospital staff were planning a memorial to honor their colleague’s memory, a representative for the healthcare group said. The event will not be open to the public or media so those who worked with Mammone can “process what they’re feeling” in private, the spokesman said.
Mammone did not appear to have any prior connection with Smith, Orange County district attorney’s officials said. They and sheriff’s deputies had not publicly suggested a motive for the killing as of Friday.
Staff writer Andrew Turner contributed to this story.
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