3 men now face murder charge in toddler’s death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Charges against three Detroit men in connection with the shooting of a 2-year-old Detroit girl were upgraded to murder Tuesday after the child was declared brain dead.

Cleveland Tyvon Smelley, 30; Deonta Charles Bennett, 21; and Antoine Lamar Smelley, 32, all of Detroit, are now charged with first-degree murder and seven counts of assault with intent to murder. They each previously faced eight counts of assault with intent to murder.

Authorities say Makanzee Oldham died just days after being shot in the head after gunfire broke out outside a home on the city’s east side. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said that Bennett allegedly gave a handgun to Cleveland Smelley, who fired at people in a car, striking Makanzee.

Her dad and two other children in the car were unhurt.

Makanzee was declared brain dead Friday and taken off life support at the hospital Sunday. Her organs were donated.

Authorities say the Smelleys and Bennett were at a home in the 16400 block of Fairmount when Kool-Aid was allegedly poured over the head of a woman who was getting ready to go to a prom. Antoine Smelly also allegedly pulled out a handgun and threatened the young woman and her friends.

Shortly afterward, Cleveland Smelley and Bennett drove to the home where they met briefly with Antoine Smelley, prosecutors said. Once inside, the men got into a fight with several others and shots were fired.

At the arraignment for the three men, relatives of the Smelley brothers gave a different account Saturday about what touched off the deadly shooting.

Family members said the girl whose prom dress was ruined stole $1,000 from Antoine Smelley. The teen’s relatives allegedly “ambushed” and assaulted Antoine Smelley at his home after the alleged Kool-Aid incident. Cleveland Smelley and Bennett drove over to Antoine Smelley’s house to protect him.

“Everybody should be looked at,” said Brittney Johnson, 23, who said she is the sister of both Smelley brothers. “Antoine was at his own home when this happened.

“They brought their babies to the fight.”

A cousin, Kamika Smelley, said the defendants are not as bad as the media is making them out to be.

“(The girl in the prom dress’s) family members came to Antoine’s house. It was to defend themselves,” she said. “It was 11 people on two guys, guys and girls.

Cleveland Smelley is charged additionally with a second offense felony firearm. Bennett is also charged with felony firearm and Antoine Smelly has been charged additionally with two counts of felonious assault and felony firearm.

The defendants were arraigned Saturday. The arraignment on the murder charge for the men is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. June 9 as is the probable cause conference. Their preliminary examination is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 16 before 36th District Judge Shannon Holmes.


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