Kalvin Michael Smith has been in prison since 1997 for a crime he was nowhere near and knew nothing about. At the time he was 25; today he is 44 and has been locked away from his father, mother, sisters and brothers, and his children for 18 years. He has always maintained his innocence; passed a police-administered polygraph test; and refused to plead guilty in exchange for, according to Smith, a promise that he could return home in 24 months.
Working alone one Saturday night at the Silk Plant Forest store off Silas Creek Parkway, Jill Marker, a 33 year-old pregnant woman, was beaten brutally and repeatedly with a blunt object and left for dead. Just prior to the attack, Ms. Marker fearfully telephoned a friend, telling her that Kenneth Lamoureux—a man with a history of stalking and domestic violence—had been in the store and flew into a rage when she refused to have dinner with him. Within fifteen minutes of that call, Ms. Marker lay in the back of the store in a pool of blood.
Lamoureux had no confirmable alibi; failed a polygraph test; acted suspiciously; and, then, suddenly moved away from Winston-Salem when lead Detective D. R. Williams asked to interview him again. Inexplicably, the detective dropped the investigation of Lamoureux as a prime suspect at that point. Nine months later, the Winston-Salem Police Department turned its attention to building a case against Smith. The jury never heard about Lamoureux at trial. Since 2008, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has represented the state in the case, because of allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the Forsyth District Attorney’s Office.
As attorney general—North Carolina’s top prosecutor–Roy Cooper has a sworn responsibility as “a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate;…to seek justice, not merely to convict.” (Rule 3.8 NC Bar Association Rules of Conduct and Ethics) However, Cooper has aggressively defended Smith’s conviction, based on fundamentally unfair proceedings, rather than pursuing the “discovery of truth” (General Provisions of the NC Oath of Office) and seeking the justice Kalvin Michael Smith and Jill Marker deserve.
Two exhaustive and independent reviews—each lasting about a year and a half—have exposed a botched investigation, questionable prosecutorial tactics, and a host of facts unknown to the judge and jury. The Silk Plant Forest Citizens Review Committee, empanelled by the Winston-Salem City Council, concluded it did “not have confidence in the investigation, the information in question, or the result of the investigation…” and found “no credible evidence” that Kalvin Smith was at the Silk Plant Forest on the day in question. Former Assistant FBI Director Christopher Swecker, in his own independent review, documents the original investigation was “seriously flawed and woefully incomplete, thus calling into question whether the original trial jury rendered their verdict based on all the relevant and accurate facts of the case.” Director Swecker concluded “only a new trial that considers the full record and evidence not available, misrepresented or omitted in the original trial will provide the full measure of justice the community of Winston-Salem and every accused defendant deserves.”
We call on Attorney General Roy Cooper to move swiftly to vacate Smith’s conviction and petition the court for his immediate release. Free Kalvin Now.
After a review of public records of the investigation and judicial proceedings of this case, the Silk Plant Forest Truth Committee believes that Kalvin Michael Smith’s conviction was the product of fundamentally unfair proceedings and a breakdown in the adversarial process that our system counts on for just results. We believe that the foregoing narrative accurately represents the failure of justice for Kalvin Michael Smith and Jill Marker.
Except where otherwise indicated, the information presented here is the opinion of the SPFTC. Wherever possible, we have cited to official court documents and public records, taking pains to excerpt faithfully where necessary in the interest of brevity, but adding formatting in some cases to emphasize key terms. We apologize for any errors in citation. We encourage you to seek out the public records if you wish to review evidence in context.