Crime

Two young men sentenced in death of good Samaritan. Mom says they didn’t do it

Gerald Smith, center left, and his brother Jared Smith, give each other glances during a sentencing hearing in Fresno County Superior Court on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Each was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Gerald Smith, center left, and his brother Jared Smith, give each other glances during a sentencing hearing in Fresno County Superior Court on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Each was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. lgriswold@fresnobee.com

A pair of Fresno twins who told their mother “we were in the wrong place at the wrong time” were each sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for beating up a man who was then run over by a car and killed.

Gerald and Jared Smith, 22, pleaded guilty in December to voluntary manslaughter in the death of good Samaritan Nathan Halsted, 49.

Because of time served in the Fresno County jail, they will be released in early 2026 assuming good behavior behind bars, defense attorney Gregory Gross said.

According to testimony from a preliminary hearing, witness Tenille Alexander said the two young men punched and kicked her in an unprovoked attack on Belmont Avenue at Calaveras Street during the early hours of June 30, 2014.

She told them “I’m a girl! I’m a girl!” to get them to stop, but they kept attacking her, she said. That’s when a man on a bicycle, Halsted, who she did not know, intervened and saved her life, she said.

The attackers turned on the good Samaritan and after beating him up, left him on the street where he was run over by a driver who did not see him, prosecutor Sam Dalesandro said at the hearing.

A grainy, dark police surveillance video showed two men kicking and punching Halsted for several minutes.

The woman testified that the incident started about 3 a.m. when a man in a pickup drove up and she got in the truck, saying she thought he would take her somewhere to get something to eat. But when he propositioned her, she said no and got out of the truck, she said.

That’s when two men, later identified as the twin brothers, confronted her and demanded money, she said. She told them she wasn’t a prostitute and had no money but they started attacking her, she said.

The Smiths were 18 at the time. After the sentencing hearing before Judge Jon Kapetan, the twins’ mother, Lou Ann Smith, said her sons were raised with good values, were good in sports in high school and had chances to go to college when their future was taken from them.

“They were not there when this man died,” she said. “They were not murderers.”

The victim punched one of her sons in the face, she said.

She said her sons were home long before the ambulance showed up at the crime scene, and her sons did not have blood on them when they came home. Also, a video that she viewed showed four people running, she said.

Yet defense attorneys did not return her phone calls and insisted her sons plead guilty, saying they had no choice because “it’s 25 to life” if they were to go to trial and get convicted of murder, she said.

Her sons told her, “we were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “We didn’t do nothing to that man.”

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