Driver in a Northeast hit-and-run accident pleads guilty nearly 11 years later

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Over a decade later, a Kansas City family is finally getting closure after Jerry Dean Smith, 44, was killed October of 2007 in a hit-and-run accident in the Northeast.

The driver, Cesar Saenz, was 17 years old at the time. Now 28, he plead guilty to the incident Friday, Jan. 4 and will serve four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and then be turned over to immigration enforcement. He was charged with First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter and Felony Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident.

Court documents show that Kansas City, Missouri Police officers responded to the area of 9th street and Benton Boulevard on the evening of October 27, 2007, on the report of an injury accident. While en route to the accident, an officer traveling west on 9th Street near Bales Avenue witnessed a grey Ford Taurus sedan traveling east in the westbound lanes at a high rate of speed. That vehicle, driven by Saenz, went through the intersection of 9th and Benton, striking Smith, who was directing traffic from the previous accident. Smith, a lifelong Northeast resident, suffered fatal injuries in the crash and left behind two children.

Roughly three days later, police received a tip from the Crime Stoppers hotline that the vehicle involved in the accident belonged to a Hispanic male known as “Saesa,” and that the vehicle belonged to his mother who lived in Kansas City, Kansas.

Another Crime Stoppers report indicated that Saenz was working under an alias in the caves near I-435 and M-210. Officers responded to the cave on October 31, 2007 and took a confrontational Saenz into custody. A single key was located in his pocket at the time of his arrest, which opened the doors and was able to start the ignition of the vehicle.

Despite the evidence, authorities were unable to definitively tie Saenz to the vehicle on the night of the hit-and-run until February of 2009, when a tip led detectives to a woman identified as Saenz’s girlfriend at the time of the fatal incident.
A warrant for Saenz’s arrest was filed on March 31, 2009, but Saenz managed to evade authorities until June 22, 2018, when he was finally served with the warrant.


Upon the January 2019 guilty plea, Saenz’s attorneys provided the following statement:

“Mr. Saenz entered into a guilty plea today for four years in the Missouri Division of Adult Institutions. He accepted responsibility for his reckless actions that occurred on October 27, 2007, which caused the death of Jerry Smith. It is important to remember that the motor vehicle accident occurred when Cesar Saenz was a 17-year-old child. Today, a 29-year-old man, he is a husband and a father who truly regrets not stopping after the accident. He apologized in Court to the Smith family and to his family for the pain that has been endured as a result of his reckless choices. James Smith, the victim’s son, and Cesar Saenz shared an emotional hug after the Court accepted the guilty plea and pronounced sentence. Justice was served today for all those involved and thank God the healing process may begin.”

Comments are closed.

  • Northeast Chamber wants community input on art submitted for mural project

    June 14th, 2019

    “3 Roosters,” by Zac Laman. Photo from Untitled art by Armando Mesa “Piece by Piece we Made These Streets,” by Maria […]

    Jerusalem Farm seeking community members

    June 14th, 2019

    Layne Stracener Editorial Assistant   Jerusalem Farm is looking for a community companion, sojourner, and house manager to live and […]

    Kansas City Chicanos

    June 13th, 2019

    June’s First Friday in the Westside North neighborhood saw the work of various local artists at the Mattie Rhodes Center Chicano Pachanga.

    View HNE mural proposals and vote for your favorite designs

    June 12th, 2019

    Northeast News The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is inviting the public for a juried selection of at least three […]

    Center for Conflict Resolution brings restorative justice to Northeast

    June 12th, 2019

    Elizabeth Orosco Northeast News The Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) is continuing to make strides to bring Restorative Justice to […]

  • Voters to decide name of historic boulevard in November

    June 12th, 2019

    Elizabeth Orosco Northeast News City Council members voted unanimously Thursday, June 6 to place the Paseo/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard […]

    2019 KCMO Municipal Election Guide

    June 12th, 2019

      MAYOR JOLIE JUSTUS Current Title/ Position: Councilwoman of the 4th District Education: B.S. from Missouri State University and J.D., […]

    Question 1: Capping TIF

    June 12th, 2019

    Editorial Staff Northeast News   Correction: The Intercontinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza did not receive TIF but was […]

    Man found deceased at apartment complex on Lexington Avenue

    June 9th, 2019

    KCPD responded to calls regarding gunshots and found a man deceased at a nearby apartment complex.

    The Blue River Strengthens Neighborhoods

    June 5th, 2019

    Sponsored Content We’d love to see the neighborhood (residents) back out at the park biking, fishing, and exploring the nature […]

  • What’s Happening

    Remember This? Travel jug

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Whether you’re packing a picnic for a day at the park or traveling long distances on […]


    Faces Of Northeast: Diana Graham

    Diana Graham is an active part of the Lykins Neighborhood Association. She serves as secretary and is running to be […]