Judge says he would testify against shooting suspects

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg says he is prepared if he is called to testify against the alleged trigger man and another suspect indicted Monday in the March shooting of the federal jurist outside his home on the city’s west side.

“If it should come to that it’s fine,” Berg said Monday. “I would have no hesitation testifying in court.”

Judge Terrence Berg, who was named to the federal bench in 2012, was shot outside his home in March

The alleged trigger man, 23-year-old Detroit resident Kevin Smith, was arraigned Monday and given a $500,000 cash bond, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced during a news conference Monday at her office. She was joined by Detroit Police Chief James Craig, police investigators and FBI Special Agent Chris Pennisi.

Berg was wounded outside his home March 5 in the city’s University District. He praised the work done to make arrests.

“It’s a very positive thing for the neighborhoods and the community,” Berg said. “I want to say how grateful I am to the Detroit Police Department, the FBI, the task force and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. They clearly spent a lot of time and efforts (on the case).”

The city continues to have a big place in Berg’s heart and he said Monday he has no plans to leave it despite the shooting that has left him unable to resume a favorite activity of running, which he did three times a week.

“We really like our neighborhood,” Berg said. “We really like our home.”

Smith was arraigned Monday minutes before the press conference at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. Another man, who is only being named as “Unnamed Defendant #2,” was also charged in the case. He is being called a “cooperating witness.”

Smith was arraigned before Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny on charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, assault with intent to murder, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm.

Two others, Timothy Russell and Dondiego Adams, who have not been named in the Berg case, were charged in other cases involving home invasions and robbery. Worthy said the cases “represent a string of as many as 13 robberies” from January to May.

“Many of the victims in these cases were senior citizens who worked hard all of their lives,” said Worthy, who stopped short of calling Smith and the others part of a larger group of individuals possibly part of a gang whose members have been charged with armed robbery and home invasions.

Worthy called the suspects’ activities “interconnected and intertwined.” She did not release specific details, however, on how the Berg case was cracked but said “we got information that led to other information.” The investigation remains open, Worthy added.

Craig said “these suspects were very predatory and active.”

Smith will be back in court Jan. 11 for a probable cause conference.

Kevin Smith

During the Berg robbery, one man demanded to be let inside his house while another shot the judge when he refused. His wife and 16-year-old son were home.

The two fled in a dark-colored sedan, according to the FBI. Berg said he didn’t recognize the men and thought the incident was random.

The FBI has assumed the lead in the investigation and offered a $50,000 reward in the case.

Despite reductions in violent crime in the city, Berg’s shooting was a reminder that crime rates remain “intolerably high,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told The Detroit News at the time.

Berg has used the shooting to call for an end to gun violence. The key, he said, to quelling the “scourge” was more jobs, better schools and more police officers.


Staff Writer Charles E. Ramirez contributed.