Camden Boat Captain Acquitted of Manslaughter
A charter boat captain, who sails out of Camden in the summer, has been acquitted of manslaughter in the Virgin Islands for the death of one of his crew.
According to the St. John Source, the attorney representing Captain Richard Smith, said his client was the victim, and not the perpetrator, when one of his crewmen jumped over the side of the boat. Smith charters his boat, the S/V Cimarron, out of Camden, Maine in the summer, and then works out of the Virgin Islands during the winter months. In July, the Captain was indicted for seaman's manslaughter.
Prosecutors claim Smith didn't do enough to take care of David Pontius, when he started acting strangely. But defense attorneys say Pontius was unfit for duty at sea and displayed bizarre and threatening behavior, brought on by dehydration and suspected drug use. Smith said he found hundreds of pills in the man's quarters, but says Pontius told him they were for high blood pressure.
A member of the crew had testified that Pontius got seasick almost as soon as they set sail, but declined when Smith offered to turn around and drop him off in South Carolina. Jacob Pepper went on to say that Pontius' behavior became increasingly strange, and he had accused shipmates of trying to kidnap him. When Pontius grabbed the ship's spotlight and pointed it in the direction of where he claimed to have seen a portal, Pepper said Captain Smith threatened to slit his throat if he touched his equipment again. That's when Pontius grabbed Smith's throat, according to Pepper, and a fight ensued. At some point, Pontius walked to the edge of the boat and stepped overboard. That's the last anyone saw of him, in October of 2015.
Defense attorneys say Smith called for the Coast Guard and gave them the coordinates, and that crew members searched the sea with the spotlight, but to no avail. Prosecutors say Smith didn't turn the boat around after Pontius went into the water, about 340 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
On Wednesday, Smith was acquitted of the charges against him.