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Unusual bond request denied in student’s 2013 shooting

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A judge has refused to grant bond to a man awaiting a retrial in a 2013 shooting that paralyzed a freshman University of South Carolina student who was waiting for a taxi.
But Michael Juan Smith was not trying to be set free to await trial. Instead, his lawyer asked the judge to give him bond so he could start serving a 10-year federal sentence for being a felon in possession of a weapon, The State newspaper reported.
Smith’s time on that charge only counts if he is inside a federal prison and his state court retrial in the shooting seven years ago has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, defense attorney Aimee Zmroczek said at Monday’s hearing.
“We’re not trying to get him on the streets … We are simply asking he be allowed to stop wasting time here,” Zmroczek said.
The judge sided with both prosecutors and the family of the paralyzed student, Martha Childress. Prosecutors said they were trying to get Smith’s case to trial as fast as possible. Childress’s family said Smith has never expressed remorse for the shooting and every time he is moved he is an escape risk.
Smith’s lawyers argued at his trial that he fired at rival gang members in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district in self-defense after his group was threatened.
The state Supreme Court overturned Smith’s conviction and 40-year sentence for attempted murder in March, saying prosecutors did not dispute the self-defense claim.
Childress was not involved in the dispute and was wounded as she waited for a taxi. She returned to the University of South Carolina and graduated in 2017.
Smith is being held at the Richland County jail as he awaits his retrial.
Last week, Smith was indicted by the State Grand Jury on assault and battery by mob resulting in death charges in connection with a 2018 riot at Lee Correctional Institution. Seven inmates died in the violence and 22 more were injured. If convicted, Smith would face a minimum of 30 additional years in state prison.

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