Supporters continue fight for Kalvin Michael Smith

Supporters continue fight for Kalvin Michael Smith
January 07
00:00 2016
Supporters of Kalvin Michael Smith have formed a website: 

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

As another appeal was filed in the Kalvin Michael Smith case last week, local advocates are renewing their request for Attorney General Roy Cooper to stop defending his conviction.

Smith is serving up to 29 years for the 1995 assault of Jill Marker at the Silk Plant Forest store that left her with severe brain injuries. In 2008 Forsyth County prosecutors declared a conflict of interest in the case. Since then, it has been handled by the District Attorney’s office of Cooper, who is now running for governor.

For the past decade, the Silk Plant Forest Truth Committee has been advocating for Smith’s release, saying that he was wrongly convicted. The committee has tried over the years to appeal to Cooper, including holding a rally outside his office.

“So it’s his sworn duty not to defend a conviction on faulty evidence,” said committee co-chair Stephen Boyd, a Wake Forest University religion professor.

Boyd said the committee has sent reports to Cooper about doubts in the case. One was from the Silk Plant Forest Citizens Review Committee that was empaneled by the City Council to review the original case. That panel concluded it did not have “confidence in the investigation” and found no credible evidence Smith was at Silk Plant Forest.  The other was from former Assistant FBI Director Christopher Swecker who also found serious questions about the case that he determined needed to be answered in a new trial.

The committee has information on how to contact Cooper’s office and demand that he vacate Smith’s conviction on its website, The committee also makes presentations on the case to churches and groups, attends hearings in the case, and does advocacy on anything involved with the Smith case.

Smith’s cause has drawn diverse supporters. The committee’s advisory board is composed of clergy of different faiths, lawyer Robert Elliot, WFU Criminal Justice Director Kami Simmons, and Darryl Hunt, who  served more than 19 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Boyd was also involved with the movement to free Hunt. He said that case opened the eyes of many in the white community to the role of race and class in the criminal justice system, resulting in broad community support for Smith now.

The latest appeal in the Smith case involves accusations about the lead detective. According to court papers, Detective Don Williams told his brother Ricky Williams that he believed a white man committed the Silk Plant Forest assault and that “If the nigger didn’t do this, he’s done something else,” referring to Smith.

The white man he was referring to was Kenneth Lamoureux, who had a history of violence, threatened Marker the night of the attack, and moved out of town during the investigation.  The jury never heard about Lamoureux at trial Lamoureux died in 2011.

According to court papers, Ellen Lamoureux, his wife who had separated from him and accused him several times of assaulting her, asked Williams about the evidence pointing toward Lemoureux. Williams didn’t see why it would matter to her because he moved out of town and they got a crack dealer off the street, referring to Smith. The court papers said there was no evidence Smith sold crack.

There’s also a request for an evidentiary hearing on an affidavit obtained in 2008 by Forsyth County prosecutors. In the affidavit, police officer Arnita Miles said Marker identified her attacker as a black man.

In Miles’ original report she said Marker was incoherent and could not describe the attacker. Though it was not filed in court, the petition asks for a hearing to see if it was secretly used by prosecutors.

Over the years, Smith has had his many appeals denied. Boyd said that Hunt had a similar struggle, as dozens of judges ruled against his case before DNA evidence freed him.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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