A Detroit man faces charges in the shooting of a federal judge who refused to allow two would-be robbers inside his home, according to authorities.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg was shot in the leg the night of March 5. Two men approached him on his porch, who said they wanted to enter his house, according to prosecutors.
Kevin Andre Smith, 23, was arraigned Monday on charges connected to the shooting, including assault with intent to murder and armed robbery. He allegedly shot Berg after the judge refused to allow him and another man inside of his home, and the pair fled the scene without taking anything. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that it would not name the second defendant, described as “a cooperating witness with an agreement for special consideration. He has resolved two outstanding armed robbery cases; a sentence hearing is pending.”
A defense attorney for Smith, John McWilliam, told the Associated Press that his client “appears to be in some serious problems,” but “emphatically claims he did not have anything to do with it.”
Investigators have connected the case to a string of 13 armed robberies in Detroit’s University District as part of “a crime pattern mainly targeting senior citizens who were assaulted and or robbed in their homes,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said at a Monday press conference.
“Many of the victims in these cases were senior citizens who had worked hard all of their lives, only to be assaulted and robbed in their homes,” Worthy said in a statement. “Each of the victims who participated in the investigations had to re-live the harrowing experience, causing great emotional distress. We owe them a debt of gratitude, for without their help, the prosecutions would not have been possible.”
Smith pleaded guilty on Monday to armed robbery, home invasion and other charges related to a separate April incident; two other defendants were also charged and Smith will be sentenced to 13 to 30 years, according to the prosecutor’s office. The indictment in Berg’s shooting from a one-man grand jury was unsealed Monday.
That a federal judge became the victim of violent crime in a community that has long been maligned as dangerous prompted Berg and his wife to publicly defend the city.
“Violence does not define Detroit,” Berg told the Detroit Free Press weeks after the shooting. “These acts of violence happen way too often and they happen to many other people, but they don’t really represent the kind of community that we’ve experienced here. The experience here has been so positive and loving. You can’t take one incident and then try to think that kind of negative thing represents the city.”
Months later, Berg’s wife Anita Sevier echoed that sentiment to the outlet: “These guys, when they ran away, Terry’s lying on the ground shot — they tried to intrude, but they left, and they left our lives. A lot of people say, ‘Aren’t you afraid now?’ I’m not.”
She said: “It’s our house, our neighborhood, our parish. We’re not going away.”
The life-threatening gunshot wound to Berg’s leg may have cut his running career short; a 56-year-old “lifelong runner,” he has participated in the New York, Boston and Free Press marathons, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“The attack on Judge Berg really proved that violence is non-discriminating in this area,” FBI Detroit Division Special Agent David Gelios told the newspaper.