Hundreds honor fallen parole officer

Posted at 3:44 PM, Sep 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-20 00:18:48-04

RIVERTON, Utah -- As the community mourns the death of Marvell Smith, a probation and parole officer killed in a motorcycle accident Wednesday morning, FOX 13 learned more about the lives he impacted.

Some of Smith's parolees, like Russell Kennedy, spoke with FOX 13 Thursday

"Agent Smith was, quite frankly, a dream probation officer," Kennedy said.

He's had several probation officers, but Kennedy said none treated him the way Smith did: with dignity, respect, and a genuine interest in helping him overcome his struggles.

"That meant more to me than anything, to know that this guy looked at the totality of my life rather than just the crime," Kennedy adds.

Smith took his job on a case-by-case basis, making each of his parolees feel like they were a priority.

One of Smith's parolees, who didn't want to be identified, said:  "He made it seem like he trusted you until you gave him a reason not to, and even in moments you felt that you were slipping or not doing well, he never once made you feel that way. He did everything he could to remind you of who you were and what you were trying to go for."

Both of these parolees who had Smith in their lives credit him for helping to save their lives.

"He did everything he could to make sure that I knew that I was cared for and, once again, not just another offender number and when someone takes that much time and that much energy to believe in you then how could it not save your life?" one parolee said.

Kennedy said: "The work he engaged in on a daily basis was out there saving people's lives... I would say Marvell was saving my life on a daily basis."

One parolee told FOX 13 on the phone, "I don't think that there's a person in this world whose heart he didn't touch if you got the chance to meet him."

Several hundred people attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night, including Smith's law enforcement and corrections colleagues and co-workers.

A donation account has been set up at America First Credit Union's Draper branch under Marvell Smith's name. Donations can be made in person or online. Smith leaves behind two sons, ages 16 and 14.

Funeral services will be held in Riverton on Monday, September 23 at 3:00 p.m. More information can be found at a website that's been set up in Smith's honor.

Related stories:

Riverton Motorcycle crash victim identified as parole officer

Friends share memories of parole officer killed in motorcycle crash