Kalvin Michael Smith Will Be Released From Prison

Kalvin Michael Smith Will Be Released From Prison

8:57pm Nov 09, 2016
Augustus Dark (right), the father of Kalvin Michael Smith, joins NC NAACP president William Barber (center) and other supporters in front of a courtroom in Forsyth County Superior Court on November 9, 2016. WFDD photo by Keri Brown

A Winston-Salem man convicted of a brutal assault nearly 20 years ago will be released from prison. Family members of Kalvin Michael Smith wept in court as a judge read his decision.

A jury convicted Kalvin Michael Smith in 1997 in connection with an assault at the Silk Plant Forest store in Winston-Salem. The attack left the victim, Jill Marker, severely brain-damaged. He was sentenced to almost 29 years in prison.

The judge granted a shortened sentence for Smith on Wednesday. It centered on a motion filed by his attorneys. It claimed that Smith’s trial attorney failed to present certain information that could have resulted in a shorter sentence. Those include things such as Smith’s work history and strong family support.

If that had happened, Smith would be immediately eligible for release because he would have served his time, according to the motion.

The courtroom was packed with Smith's family and community supporters as the judge rendered his decision. Smith’s Dad, Augustus Dark, was overwhelmed with emotion.

“My son is absolutely amazing and I hate that he missed so much of his life because he is going to have so many great things to give back,” says Dark. “You're going to see from this day forward that we are going to be very active in trying to help other people in similar situations, so this won’t happen to another family. You see, you can look around and tell that it actually affected an entire community.”

Smith, now 45, has maintained his innocence. Two local investigations found serious flaws in the case. This latest motion didn’t address his innocence claims. His supporters say that’s the next step.

“Today is a big step, but not the end of the journey. It’s a step on the path of victory that Dr. Jim Coleman and the Innocence Project will continue to work until the day that there’s not only a sentence reduction, but a full exoneration,” says Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP.

The judge’s ruling on Wednesday reserves Smith’s right to continue appealing his case to try to prove his innocence.

So far, both federal and state courts have ruled against all of his appeals.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news


Support your
public radio station