Thursday, 20 October 2011

Why is Vincent Smothers being treated differently from other confessed killers?

, Detroit Crime Examiner

This commentary was prompted by an article in today's Detroit Free Press, available at, entitled 'Family slams courts, Worthy as murder case drags on with delays.'  The article dealt with the frustration of victim Rose Cobb's relatives with the criminal justice system. It is not difficult to sympathize with them.
Smothers confessed in 2008 that he shot Cobb in a CVS parking lot after being promised $10,000 by her husband, then a DPD police sergeant. His trial for Cobb's murder is to be the first of several trials involving a total of eight murders. Yet after all this time, a date for the trial hasn't been set.
A judge has already declined to throw out Smothers' confession, so why the delay in a case that would seem to be a slam dunk? The Free Press article offers an explanation for some of the delay, including the need for a psychiatric exam following a botched suicide attempt. Yet Smothers has been pronounced fit for trial, so why has no date been set?
What really piqued my interest about the Freep article was the assertion by the prosecutor that part of the delay was due to plea bargaining sessions with Smothers. This did not really come as a surprise; I have long suspected that Smothers knows more than he told investigator Ira Todd back in '08. Some of this information is very sensitive. According to Ira Todd's civil case against the city and certain key officials, he was demoted by the brass while pursuing leads generated during his interrogation of Smothers.
Now we have a new mayor and police chief, and a prosecutor who would like to get inside Smothers' head no matter where the information leads them. Among other things the prosecutor would like to know are who hired him to kill the drug dealers, what relationship, if any did he have with Kwame Kilpatrick, and does he know who shot Tamara Greene.
But the plea negotiations predictably went nowhere because the prosecution has nothing meaningful to offer Smothers. They could offer a sentence deal giving Smothers the chance of parole, but Charlie Manson will get parole before Smothers ever would. And all the other cases will involve charges of first degree murder, so a plea in the Cobb case wouldn't do Smothers much good.
Consider this also: if Smothers were given a deal covering all his murder cases, the citizens of this city would not be happy about it. Also, Smothers may keep his mouth shut out of concern he could face reprisals in prison.
In short, Smothers may have some valuable information locked in his head, but there would seem no workable way to get at it. So let's stop coddling the man and set a trial date.


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