WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Two Brunswick County men are running in the Republican primary for top prosecutor in the 13th district – a contest that will likely determine the ultimate winner since no other candidates have filed.
Jon David is serving his first term as district attorney for Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties. Standing between him and another four-year term is defense attorney Ryan Smithwick.
David touts his experience as a prosecutor, having worked as an assistant in Miami and Wilmington before being elected district attorney in 2010.
He also points to his accomplishments in office over the past four years, including more than 40 murder convictions.
"During my entire career of 18 years in the courtroom, I've stood on the side of victims and worked closely with law enforcement to get justice in all cases," David said. "My opponent is a criminal defense attorney who has never handled a murder case."
Although Smithwick has not tried a murder case, as an assistant D.A. in Charlotte for nearly five years, he prosecuted jury trials for offenses including attempted murder, he said.
Smithwick doesn't think his lack of experience with murder trials disqualifies him from serving as district attorney because he says homicides make up only a small percentage of overall cases.
On the campaign trail, Smithwick touts support from law enforcement and claims under his opponent's watch, cases are taking too long to go to court.
"Lots of these cases are sitting in our jails for over a thousand, sometimes 2,000 days going unattended, just to see dismissals at the end of the cases," Smithwick said. "So what that means is, we've got a person housed for over a thousand days, 80 dollars a day, that's 80 grand to house an inmate."
David says his opponent is picking a few cases to paint a false picture.
The district attorney points to data from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts that shows the average age of a felony case in his district is 201 days, compared to the state average of 214 days.
The ages of misdemeanors and traffic cases in the district are also below state averages.
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