A case of reckless driving and manslaughter, which started as a Ross Dress for Less theft report, has taken a strange new turn with police saying that the suspect originally identified as the vehicle's passenger was actually the driver that struck and killed a Milwaukie resident while fleeing the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall.
On Thursday, Jan. 13, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office detectives arrested 22-year-old Aunajae Smith of Portland and charged her with manslaughter, recklessly endangering and reckless driving. On Sept. 21, members of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals Service arrested Oregon City resident Anthony Michael Lucero, 27, as the driver in the Sept. 16 case, but police now say he was in fact the passenger based on "further investigation and forensic analysis of evidence by the Oregon State Crime Lab."
Although he's no longer charged with manslaughter, Lucero is still expected to be charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has been indicted on previous charges of reckless driving and attempts to elude police in March, according to court records that showed he had to forfeit $3,000 in bail money due to his failure to attend court dates.
The case began shortly after 8 p.m. when deputies responded to a report of a theft from Ross, 11211 S.E. 82nd Ave., in unincorporated Clackamas County. Sheriff's deputies arrived in the area and attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, but it fled the scene.
Prosecutors say while fleeing Clackamas Town Center, Smith allegedly failed to stop at a traffic light and struck a vehicle in the intersection of Bell Avenue and Southeast Johnson Creek Boulevard. CCSO identified the driver of the vehicle struck by Smith as Kris Lee Nickelson, 54, of Milwaukie. Nickelson was treated by deputies and Clackamas Fire paramedics at the scene and transported to a local hospital by AMR, where he later died.
Smith was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. She later checked herself out of the hospital.
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