Plea deal possible for state Sen. Virgil Smith

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case of state Sen. Virgil Smith Jr. hinted Friday at a possible plea deal in his criminal assault case involving his ex-wife.

Both sides appeared before Wayne Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon. Smith, 35, was also in the court, as was his ex-wife, who sat a short distance away from him in the courtroom.

“We have presented a written proposal to the prosecutor,” said Godfrey Dillard, the defense attorney for Smith.

The lawmaker is scheduled for trial in March on charges he beat his ex-wife and shot at her with an assault rifle last year.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey told Talon she will know if the trial will go forward by the second week of February.

“We need to sit down with the prosecutor and the discuss (the case),” said Lindsey on Friday.

Smith, D-Detroit, made no remarks during the hearing.

Talon told both parties, including co-counsel Gerald Evelyn, to come back Feb. 5 to discuss whether Smith will go to trial.

Smith was charged with felonious assault, malicious destruction of personal property $20,000 or more, domestic violence assault and battery, and felony firearm after he allegedly shot up his ex-wife’s Mercedes-Benz after a subsequent argument outside his Detroit house in May.

Smith is accused of shooting after his wife came to his house and found a naked woman in his bed.

Smith’s ex-wife, Anistia Thomas, who said she continued an intimate relationship with Smith after their brief marriage ended, described the alleged confrontation last year.

“I went to his bedroom window because I noticed that it was open. I knocked on the window, and I say ‘Kai’ (Smith’s middle name),” Thomas said. “Then he comes to the window … he meets me at the side door. He opens the door; he lets me in.

“He said ‘Tatiana’s here,’ ” Thomas said, referring to Smith’s girlfriend, Tatiana Grant. “I walked into the bedroom; I see Tatiana in the bed. I went up to the bed, I ask her if they are sleeping together. She sat up and she said, ‘no.’

“I snatched the sheet off of her. (I saw) that she was naked. At that point, Kai grabbed me … we get into an altercation.

“He pulls on me … we wrestle … he punches me in the face a few times. After falling into the TV, he rams my head into the floor. After that, he puts his right arm into the back of my neck. It basically stopped my breathing at that point. He said he’d let me up if I leave.

“He kept punching me throughout my body. I stumble up trying to leave … he literally rams my head into the wall. My face hit the wall. I fall down. Then he takes my arms again … he continues to force me, and beats me down the hallway.

“He opens the screen door and pushes me out. I fall over the railing and then my face hit the concrete. I go to the front of the house. I pick up a wicker chair and throw it.

“He comes out from the side door. I see him holding a big gun in the air.”

Thomas said the gun was an AR-15, which Smith allegedly kept under his bed.

“He starts shooting in the air. He turns it toward me and starts shooting at me,” Thomas said.

Smith’s attorney has maintained that his client had a right to defend himself inside his residence.

If convicted on the charges, 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 alone could put Smith behind bars for up to one year.

He could also face another mandatory two-year prison term on a conviction for the felony firearms charge.

Smith would not necessarily be removed from office if he is convicted but the state’s law gives lawmakers a choice to remove a colleague who has breached the public’s trust.

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Detroit News Staff Writer George Hunter contribute.