Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker (’81) says Kalvin Michael Smith should get new trial

A former FBI agent concluded in a report released Tuesday that Kalvin Michael Smith, the Winston-Salem man convicted in 1997 of beating Jill Marker, should get a new trial due to a heavily flawed and incomplete police investigation.

Chris Swecker (’81), a former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said at a news conference held at Wake Forest law school that Winston-Salem police detectives provided inaccurate court testimony, failed to document evidence that might have been favorable to Smith and did not thoroughly pursue two other suspects who had long criminal records and had been placed at the scene of the crime.

Swecker said Winston-Salem police have made many policy changes, such as videotaping interviews with suspects, that would prevent the kind of mistakes made in the investigation of Marker’s beating.

Swecker was especially critical of Don Williams, the lead detective in the case, who he called disorganized and in “over his head.”

“It is clear that the Silk Plant Forest investigation was seriously flawed and woefully incomplete, thus calling into question whether the original trial jury rendered their verdict based on all the relevant and accurate facts of the case,” Swecker said in the report.

The Silk Plant Forest Truth Committee, a group of Smith supporters, hired Swecker in 2010 to review the case. Swecker said he was paid about $2,500 for his work. He was one of two former FBI agents who did a critical audit of the state crime lab two years ago.

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