The murder trial of Michael David Smith began this week in Gogebic County.
Smith is accused of murder and manslaughter in the death of a fellow inmate, Randolph Connor, at the Ojibway Correctional Facility in 2013. The trial got underway Tuesday with Jury selection and opening statements.
The prosecution stated that the jurors would see a video showing the assault by the suspect, with medical testimony pointing to injuries received during the assault as the victim's cause of death.
The defense for Smith said the death was caused by him, but the evidence will now show that the death was not justified or excused and that Smith couldn't be identified as having a "guilty state of mind." Smith's defense also reminded the jury that Michigan is a "stand your ground" state.
Ten witnesses were called as the trial resumed on Wednesday. Testimony and video detailed the assault that happened on January 11, 2013. Testimony on Wednesday focused on medical staff that tended to the victim, detailing what was done to stabilize him.
On Thursday the testimony involved doctors and nurses that treated the victim, who was stated as in a comatose state when he arrived due to head trauma. The victim's mother also testified Thursday, saying that everyone liked her son; he was a caring person with plans to attend college and become a lawyer. She added that he was going to be released from prison just 42 days after the assault took place.
A co-defendant in the case, Delorean Henderson, testified for the prosecution on Thursday. He told the jury that he had accepted a plea bargain to the reduced manslaughter charged and faced a minimum of 10 years in prison. Henderson testified that the Connor and Smith knew each other, and that Connor ran a poker table and had lost money to Smith. Henderson added that Connor refused to pay his debt to Smith, and that the assault took place in the card room.
Friday's testimony involved a neurologist and brain surgeon at Marquette General Hospital. Craig Coccia, MD, testified that the first three kicks to Connor's head, shown in the video, did the damage that caused his brain injuries. Dr. Coccia performed surgery to alleviate Connor's brain swelling, but he was eventually determined to be brain dead due to injuries.
The court expects to resume testimony on Monday with six law enforcement officers with the Michigan State Police regarding their investigation. The prosecution is expected to rest their case on Tuesday morning, with the defense set to call several witnesses.
If convicted, Smith faces 15 years for the manslaughter charge or up to life in prison for the murder charge.