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Plea Bargain Reached in Firecracker Prank

November 27, 1985

Prosecutors have agreed to dismiss assault and mayhem charges against a Van Nuys man who allegedly duped another man into trying to smoke a firecracker that blew off his lips and injured several fingers.

In a plea bargain, Jay Edward Smith, 22, agreed to plead guilty to the remaining charges of possessing cocaine and dangerous fireworks.

Francis Donnelly, 36, an immigrant from Northern Ireland, testified at a preliminary hearing that he bought cocaine from Smith. He said Smith then sold him a firecracker for $5, saying it contained a drug that would help him sleep if he smoked it. When he lighted the firecracker, Donnelly said, it exploded in his mouth.

Smith's attorney, James E. Blatt, maintained at the preliminary hearing that his client should not be held responsible for Donnelly's stupidity. Donnelly said, however, that he could not have recognized a firecracker as an explosive device because he had never seen one.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Norman F. Montrose said prosecutors had insufficient evidence to prove Donnelly's criminal intent in the most serious charges.

Smith pleaded guilty to the remaining counts Tuesday in Van Nuys Superior Court. He will be sentenced before Judge Richard G. Kolostian on Dec. 23, at which time the other two charges will be dropped. Smith could receive a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in prison.

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