A Father Punches the Killer of his Daughter during sentencing in Detroit courtroom
A wild scene broke out in a Detroit courtroom today during the sentencing of a mother and her boyfriend, both convicted in the death of the woman’s three-year-old daughter.
The child’s father, Dwayne Smith, was getting ready to give a victim impact statement when he punched one of the defendants, Clifford Thomas, in the head, said attorney John McWilliams, who was in the courtroom at the time.
Wayne County Sheriff’s Office deputies quickly separated the two and yelling can be heard throughout the courtroom on video shot by WDIV-TV.
“It was pretty scary,” McWilliams said.
He represents the child’s mother, Jasmine Gordon, who stood up and moved near the defense table as the incident unfolded in Wayne County Circuit Judge Margaret Van Houten’s courtroom.
Gordon’s daughter, 3-year-old Jamila Smith of Detroit, died of multiple blunt force injuries in September 2014, and her death was ruled a homicide, according to a spokesman with the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Both Gordon and Thomas were convicted of involuntary manslaughter earlier this month, court records show.
McWilliams said the two defendants were in the courtroom at the same time so the victim impact statement wouldn’t have to be given twice.
“I’m glad nobody was seriously hurt,” he said.
The child’s father was not allowed to return to the courtroom inside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice after the punch, he said.
“No charges were pursued against those involved as the judge declined to hold Dwayne Smith in contempt of court,” Paula Bridges, a spokeswoman with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said in an email. “Clifford Thomas refused prosecution of Smith.”
Sentencing in the case continued after a break and another family member gave a victim impact statement, McWilliams told the Free Press.
Gordon was sentenced to 7-15 years for involuntary manslaughter and 14-25 years for first-degree child abuse as an aider and abettor, which will be served at the same time, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Maria Miller said in an email.
Thomas was sentenced to about 6 years to 15 years for involuntary manslaughter and 1-2 years for resisting and obstructing a police officer, Miller said.