Man accused of shooting Martha Childress appears in federal cour - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Man accused of shooting Martha Childress appears in federal court

Michael Juan Smith (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center) Michael Juan Smith (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center)
Martha Childress Martha Childress

The man accused of firing the bullet that paralyzed a University of South Carolina student in Five Points appeared in federal court Tuesday morning.

Michael Juan Smith was arraigned in Columbia for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

During the hearing, Smith's attorney told the judge they were waiving the defendant's right to bond.

Smith, 21, is also being held in Richland County on charges of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and possession of a stolen pistol. He has not been granted bond on those charges.

On Oct. 13, police say Smith shot at two men he was having an argument with in Five Points. The bullet missed them and traveled into a crowd of people waiting for taxi cabs.

Martha Childress, an 18-year-old University of South Carolina student who was waiting for one of those cabs, was hit in the ribcage and immediately collapsed. The 40-caliber bullet hit her spinal cord. She immediately told friends she could not feel her legs.

The Childress family was in the courtroom as well. Although they've come face-to-face with Smith once before, the sight of him still stirred emotions.

"The family still has a lot of anger, of course, because we are disappointed that this hardened criminal has shown no signs of remorse for what he did, and we think he should have been in prison to begin with," said Childress' stepfather Ron Johnson.

Johnson says she is improving each day and looking at coming home from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before Christmas and returning to USC full-time next fall.

"Some of her classmates and sorority sisters who want to room with her next fall, they already found a handicapped apartment that they put the deposit down on so she hopes to rejoin her classmates next fall," said Johnson.

While the family is glad USC reinstated the shuttle service to Five Points, and Five Points security cameras are being watched in real-time -- all items on Martha's List -- they believe more needs to be done.

"The wheels of justice move slowly as we've come to know, but we are anxious to see some other things get done here, and we think they can be and hopefully will be before the holiday season is over," said Johnson.

Other items on Martha's List include bond reform and more attention being paid to criminal records in court before bond is granted.

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