State Sen. Virgil Smith arraigned in assault case

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

State Sen. Virgil Smith was arraigned Thursday on charges that he assaulted his ex-wife in May and shot at her with an assault rifle outside his Detroit home.

The arraignment comes two weeks after a 36th District judge ordered Smith to stand trial on charges of malicious destruction of property of $20,000 or more, felonious assault, felony firearm and a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. A not guilty plea was entered on Smith's behalf Thursday, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon will preside over the case. Smith returns to court Aug. 27 for a final conference. A trial is scheduled for Dec. 7.

On May 9, Smith, 35, allegedly beat his ex-wife, Anistia Thomas, and shot at her, riddling her Mercedes-Benz with bullets, after she showed up at his house and found a naked woman in his bed.

Thomas testified last month that she and Smith got into an altercation during the incident and that he punched her numerous times. Once outside the house, she said Smith shot his AR-15 in the air and then began shooting at her. She said she ran to the nearby home of Smith's friend where she called 911.

Anistia Thomas, ex-wife of state Sen. Virgil Smith.

Smith's attorney, Godfrey Dillard, has argued that his client had a right to protect himself inside his home.

Smith faces up to four years in prison on the felonious assault charges and a possible five years and $15,000 in fines for the malicious destruction of property charges. The domestic violence charge could land Smith behind bars for up to one year and another two years for the felony firearms charge.

Smith would not necessarily be removed from office if convicted, however state law gives lawmakers an option to remove a colleague who breaches the public's trust.

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