Local News

Smith Trial Goes to Jury

Posted October 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— After just a few hours deliberation, a jury has found 24-year-old Jermaine Smith not guilty of setting a fire last year that caused the deaths of four small children. Smith's attorney spent much of the trial attacking the changing stories of the prosecution's chief witnesses.

The victims' mother, Angela Wilder, and her daughter, Ebony Wilder, testified that Smith set the fire, but the defense pointed out that they had told very different stories to police during investigations just after the fire.

WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsspoke the the jury foreperson, Charleen Martin, after the verdict was announced. She said that, at first, jurors were split between "undecided" and "not guilty".

The prosecution portrayed Smith, who was Angela Wilder's boyfriend, as a wrongly accused man.