Trial date set for federal judge’s accused shooter

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Detroit — A trial date of April 27 was set for the alleged trigger man charged in the shooting of U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg on the front porch of his home in the city’s University District.

Kevin Andre Smith appeared via video at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on Tuesday morning where Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny set a trial date on charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, assault with intent to murder, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm.

Smith, 23, of Detroit, is the alleged gunman in the March 5 shooting, prosecutors said. Another man, who is only being named as “Unnamed Defendant #2,” was also charged in the case. He is being called a “cooperating witness.”

Defense attorney John L. McWilliams said prosecutors have a large amount of discovery to turn over to him, and he has stacks of discovery to go over before trial, including transcripts of interviews, crime scene information and Berg’s medical records from the shooting.

McWilliams said Smith has a 2012 federal case pending that will determine whether the charges in the Berg shooting are handled in state court or federal court. He is charged with carjacking and the case is set for trial on April 12.

Kevin Smith

“Those cases may play into whether this proceeds here or is melded into the federal case. I will prepare either way because he is presumed innocent and prosecutors have to prove their case,” he said.

McWilliams said two of Smith’s childhood friends from kindergarten “have turned on him” in other cases and are doing it again in this case. He would not discuss Smith’s level of involvement in the Berg shooting.

“I’ll be prepared for anything,” he said.

Federal judge Terrence Berg

The court also set a pretrial date for March 8.

In 2015, a one-man grand jury indicted Smith in connection with the case.

Police said during the robbery, one man demanded to be let inside Berg’s house while another shot the judge when he refused. Berg’s wife and 16-year-old son were home during the shooting.

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.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Smith spoke to his mother who was present in the courtroom, telling her: “Mom, you take care of yourself. I love you.”