Local News

Jermaine Smith Free After Post-Verdict Weekend in Jail

Posted October 20, 1997

— An man found innocent last week spent a weekend in jail before finally being set free. Last Friday, Jermaine Smith was acquited of murder charges in connection with a deadly 1996 fire.

A laundry list of unresolved charges, among them driving without a license, speeding, failure to wear a seatbelt, use of a fictitious license tag, breaking and entering and resisting arrest, kept Smith in jail until Monday afternoon.

But Smith's attorney still has a burning question: why did Smith have to spend almost two years behind bars before justice was rendered?

After 20 months in solitary confinement, a week long trial, and an acquittal on murder charges, Smith had still another day in court. His attorneys made quick work of a list of unresolved charges, then it was on to freedom, and his waiting family. He was tried on four counts of murder for Raleigh's deadliest act of arson. He told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthe police department needs to face up to a bad investigation.

Joe Cheshire, Smith's attorney says the real story is how close his client came to death row.

Smith's mother, Gloria Harris, says she was glad the system worked.

Assistant District Attorney Zeseley Haislip still thinks Smith is guilty.

Jermaine Smith still has two court dates, one this month, one next month, to resolve the charges against him. Another potential court appearance may prove more interesting. Both Smith and his attorney appear to be interested in pressing a lawsuit against the Raleigh police department.

Photographer:Greg Clark

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