By Eva Andrews
It’s a story that we have all heard, but never really listen to. A suspect is wrongfully accused of a crime that he or she did not commit. Due to falsified information, a case is formed. No substantial evidence confirms the suspect’s presence at the scene of the crime. The real criminal is bypassed or well-represented in court and is off the hook. The record of the convicted suspect does not leave room for doubt. These types of cases often are underpinned by race or economic class. But when cases like these are local, the circumstances begin to permeate disbelief or indisposition. A case with the same narrative was relayed on February 9th in order to rally local support.
Kalvin Michael Smith, who was 25 at the time of conviction and is now 44 after serving time in prison, was charged with robbery and attempted murder. The victim, Jill Marker, was five months pregnant at the time of the attack leaving her with multiple head injuries. She was able to deliver the baby, but remains on life support to this day. The robbery charge was tagged on to the case when it was found that $295.00 went missing from the register of Silk Plant Forest, artificial plant store, the night of the crime in 1997. It was noted that Marker, store manager, had a stalker, Kenneth Earl Lamoureu, who was the real perpetrator and is now deceased.
Smith has about five misdemeanors on his record for petty crimes. At the time, he had two ex-girlfriends who relayed to Crime Stoppers that he was at the scene of the crime, Silk Plant Forest store in 1997. Both women reported false information about Smith, which inevitably lead to his arrest. And with the testimony of questionable witnesses and little physical evidence, Smith was charged with attempted murder and robbery and sentenced to 29 years in prison. Smith poses the question in a state of disillusionment, “How can a system of justice fight so hard against justice itself?” He goes on to state, “When politics and money supersedes doing what’s right, then we have a problem.” It is heartbreaking, but true statement that needs to be adhere to by politicians namely Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The case was presented by a group of community members along with Salem College activist Virginia Parnell, with a detailed timeline of the crime and in-depth account of the crime and its injustice. A discussion was held after the presentation to give room for comments or concerns in relation to the case. A question was posed by a Salem Student about how the case may be widening the racial divide in Winston-Salem. It was confirmed that cases like these often create vastly different viewpoints that leave certain racial groups at odds. These divided viewpoints travel to voting booth of the Winston-Salem area, which give voice to these frustrations. If Roy Cooper felt the voting threat against his campaign, he might be more inclined to take action on behalf of Smith much like he did for the Duke Lacrosse players back in 2007.
Supporters of Kalvin Michael Smith have created a website that outlines the evidence and events in chronological order the night of the crime in 1997 as well as detailed background of all the persons involved in the case. There are stickers, pins, and rallies circulating in support of Smith on the campuses of WSSU, Wake Forest, and Salem College lead by Virginia Parnell’s initiative, dedication and forthright manner. These campuses and community members are calling for retrial to set Smith free and prevent other cases like it from surfacing again. To learn more or be a part of the motion for Kalvin’s freedom, visit freekalvinnow.org. Let’s stand with Kalvin Michael Smith together.