A judge ruled on Thursday that Michigan state senator Virgil Smith will stand trial after he allegedly beat his ex-wife then shot at her with an assault rifle, after she arrived at his house and discovered a naked woman laying in his bed. Godfrey Dillard, Smith’s attorney, invoked the state’s Castle Doctrine, and stated his client was only protecting himself against potential harm, but 36th District Court Judge Michael Wagner denied his argument.
Smith’s wife testified that he pulled her arms, wrestled her to the ground, and struck her in the face multiple times. Then, “he rams my head into the floor…puts his right arm into the back of my neck. It basically stopped my breathing at that point,” she said. According to the report, she also said that Smith would have stopped the violence if she had left the house.
Afterwards, the scene moved outside, when Smith’s wife was fleeing the house, he opened fire on her with an AR-15 assault rifle. Police stated her car was “riddled with bullet holes.” The Michigan state senator surrendered to police after they arrived.
Smith will face up to four years in prison if convicted on the felony assault charge, and may potentially have another five years and a $15,000 fine for charges of malicious destruction of property. Moreover, he could be in prison even longer on both a domestic violence charge and a felony firearms charge.
Although a conviction would put the Michigan state senator behind bars, it doe snot lead to his forfeit of office. There is a law, however, that allows the state’s lawmakers to remove a member of the legislature if they cause a breach of the public’s trust.
By Alex Lemieux
The Detroit News: Sen. Virgil Smith to stand trial for shooting at ex-wife
Photo Courtesy of Joe Gratz’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License