Judge accepts Sen. Virgil Smith's plea deal for 10 months in jail, 5 yrs probation

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Virgil Smith came to court ready to resign his Senate seat and go to jail - instead, he left a free man and a senator -  at least for now.

"Virgil has lied to the press, and to friends, family and supporters about our relationship and the truth in order to save face and prison time," said Anistia Thomas, Smith's ex-wife in court. "(He is) still blaming me and not accepting responsibility for his actions, like he has done over the years.

"Virgil has to live with this, all that he has done to me for the rest of his life and I hope that God will spare his soul."

Emotional testimony from Smith's ex-wife, who he tussled with last year before filling her car with bullets from an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. Thomas says Smith beat her after she showed up at his home while he was with another woman.

"I suffered injuries that resulted from a busted lip, over 18 severe bruises on multiple areas throughout my body, five bloody gashes on my hands, multiple cuts and abrasions, a swollen jaw, a sprained neck and more," Thomas said.

But Smith's lawyer downplayed her suffering as mere vandalism.

"What we're talking about here is an automobile, an insurance claim," said attorney Godfrey Dillard.

While Smith initially faced up to 10 years in prison on assault, firearm and domestic violence charges, his attorneys and prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 10 months in jail. They say Sen. Smith suffered a head injury, is mentally ill and has substance abuse problems.

Judge Lawrence Talon said Smith certainly used bad judgment.

"Mr. Smith was a danger to the community," Talon said. "Even though he only shot up the car, he shot up the car with a semi-automatic rifle, fired multiple rounds on a residential street."

But while the judge accepted the 10 month prison deal, he surprised both sides by declaring that it would be unconstitutional for him to require Smith to resign from the Senate, even though both sides agreed Smith would quit.

"It appears to me that he's still eligible to serve in the Michigan Senate," Talon said. 

Outside the courtroom, Smith's ex-wife said Smith should resign and she said he got a better deal than most folks.

"He needs to resign because he needs to focus on himself and getting mentally healthy," Thomas said. "If there was someone who was not in their position they would be treated a totally different way in regards to the charges and the time served."

Smith is due back in court March 28, although Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is not happy with Talon's ruling and may push for a resignation or else the plea agreement could be in jeopardy.