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Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Juvenile lifer case to be heard in front of Washtenaw County judge

By John Counts

The way Bosie Smith was sentenced has been clarified in this story.

The first of eight juvenile lifer cases in Washtenaw County is scheduled to come before the circuit court Wednesday.

Attorneys have filed a motion on the behalf of 37-year-old Bosie Smith that essentially calls for a re-sentencing. Smith was 17 in 1992 when convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to mandatory life in prison for fatally stabbing a man at an Ypsilanti house.


Bosie Smith


The case comes to the Washtenaw County Trial Court on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 ruling that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional.

Months later, however, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the higher court’s decision did not retroactively apply to those who have exhausted the direct appeals process when 21-year-old Raymond Carp was denied re-sentencing.

Smith’s attorneys are filing a motion for relief from judgment in spite of the state court’s ruling. Other juvenile lifer cases in Washtenaw County are expected to soon follow suit, according to Ann Arbor attorney Deb LaBelle.

LaBelle represents Smith and several others on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal lawsuit that also could impact how courts rule in the future. LaBelle said arguments have concluded in the suit, filed more than two years ago, and that both sides are awaiting the judge’s ruling.

The Michigan Supreme Court also is expected to weigh in on the Carp case, which may or may not make re-sentencing more of a possibility in the future.

In the meantime, more motions for relief from judgment will continue to be filed in circuit courts throughout the state. Many of the area’s top law firms have stepped forward to offer their services pro-bono, LaBelle said.

“It was really a huge outpouring of support,” she said.

Smith, for instance, is being represented by Dave O’Brien and Tom O’Brien of Miller-Canfield.

“This is a guy who got dealt a real raw hand in life,” said Dave O’Brien. “He’s a different person now.”

Smith was 16 on April 13, 1992 when he fatally stabbed 23-year-old Kenneth Campbell in the chest with a steak knife outside a home on Grassland Drive in Ypsilanti. The two had fought earlier in the day because Smith brushed up against the shoes of another young man, according to court records. Campbell, who was described as being much bigger than Smith, hit Smith repeatedly on the head with a milk crate, court records said.

Smith left the home with a friend and returned sometime later with a steak knife, according to records. The two fought again, though this time Campbell was fatally stabbed in the chest.

During the trial, Smith’s attorneys claimed it was self-defense. Prosecutors said Smith leaving the scene and returning with a knife constituted premeditation. A jury agreed and found Smith guilty of first-degree murder.

“He should not be entitled to relief from judgment,” said Steve Hiller of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hiller, who was the assistant prosecuting attorney assigned to the case in 1992, said it was decided at the beginning to charge Smith as an adult. After conviction, the circuit court Probation Department and the Department of Human Services Juvenile Probation Office recommended Smith also be sentenced as an adult. Judge William Ager had the ultimate decision, but followed recommendations and sentenced Smith as an adult to life in prison.

Hiller said the prosecutor’s office will ask the judge to deny the motion without prejudice Wednesday.



Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

I vote for capital punishment.

Brian Vicente

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

You make it sounds like he went home and returned with a knife and stabbed the person. Consider this: after getting beat up, decided to carry a weapon for protection..albeit a knife instead of an automatic rifle. Fool jumped him again thinking that it would be the same outcome...what to do? Well, can't simply leave to your cousin's house who lives in a low crime area... Once that starts the brain stops thinking rationally; especially when not an adult. I think we need to stop judge folks on what we do while thinking about it rationally inside a nice warm Starbucks!


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

I see where this is going. First the ACLU wants to eliminate life sentences for juveniles convicted of first degree murder. Next, it will be adults convicted of first degree murder who claim life sentences are "cruel and unusual" punishment. Down the road, the ACLU hopes the USA will be more like Europe, where a premedidated murder conviction will get a killer 10 years with have off for good behavior.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Guys have always been sensitive about their shoes. Fifty-Eight years ago (1955) Elvis had his first hit record: "Don't you step on my blue suede shoes. You can do anything, but lay offa my blue suede shows." On the other hand, many gals are concerned about the size of a guy's shoe.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

I thought it was the size of their hands.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

I would ask the legislature to pass a new law mandating that if any of these criminals is let free, he is placed in a half-way home next door to the judge who issued the ruling. That way, the judge could more fairly assess whether society is served by this decision.

Brian Vicente

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

And this increases the impartiality of judges, how?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

His cousin beat him over the head cause he had no sense and thought he was the hardest gangster in the streets. He may be a little over 100lbs, but he has the mentality of Suge Knight....


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

His cousin was the one that was killed....and if he get's out you may be next....stay tuned or ask those who knew him....he's the bully.

ms 2013

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.


Marcy Davy

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

I did a lot of really dumb things when I was a minor, either out of panic or fear or both. You don't have enough life experience to make the right choices in the moment. My opinion is that he probably went back because knew he was going to see this kid again who repeatedly hit him over the head with a milk crate endless times. Bullies have a way of popping up when you least expect them, and it appears as though they lived in the same neighborhood, from which he probably did not have economic means of escaping.

Marcy Davy

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Some people grow up in neighborhoods where those are not options. If you spent any time in them you might understand.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

Oh, well since it was a bully, then he is justified in killing him. I missed that legal workaround. The guy was in a confrontation with someone who assaulted him. He then went home, got a weapon, and came back and killed the guy. Unless we are missing some piece of evidence (ala Law and Order or other cop serials), this seems pretty straight forward pre meditation. And the "stupid things as a kid" argument goes out the window when you stab someone to death. A little petty theft or underage drinking, sure that goes under stupid kid stuff. Murder doesn't. And if the guy beat on him, call the cops. Call your school. Tell your parents or some adult. Call someone. Don't kill the guy.

Honest Abe

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

He stabbed a man in the chest with a STEAK KNIFE!!! He was 17, too. In my eyes - He knew better and at 17, you're an adult. The sentence sticks. Enjoy your '3 hots and a cot', Bosie!

Honest Abe

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4 p.m.

****REVISED**** He stabbed a man in the chest with a STEAK KNIFE!!! He was 16, too. In my eyes - He knew better and at 16, you're an adult. The sentence sticks. Enjoy your '3 hots and a cot', Bosie!


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Hey, he's probably learned his lesson, let's free him! It's not like he murdered somebody, after all. Oh, wait....


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

I know of someone with 3 priors and yet, in a juvie prison looking at at a rehab program in prison and hoping to get out in 2? They say once lifer always a lifer? Interesting thought. Can't wait to see a back slide on this one. As for stone throwing? I have one to cast.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Great! We can look at life in prison as spending your life in a monastery doing penance for the life you took. Redemption achieved.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Christian Nations should believe in Redemption.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

"Turn the other shoe"

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

"The two had fought earlier in the day because Smith brushed up against the shoes of another young man" The prefect example of cultural decline in America. Is there any hope for us?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

I guess you missed the whole period of shooting because of stolen ten gallon hats and horses? Not long ago young black men were hung because they dared look at white women. They were beaten because they used the wrong drinking fountain. The prefecture of your past utopia is a a myth.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

With so many commenters whose teenage years were without fault casting stones, we could build a huge stone barbecue pit.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

Uh.... mailbox baseball does not measure up to murder. Sorry.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Sorry Johnny; I never killed a guy. I have thought about a lot of things. The difference between people that should spend a lifetime in prison and somebody who shouldn't is what they DO, not what they THINK. I'm surprised somebody has to point that out to you. You aren't saying the two are the same are you? Or are you advocating for thought police?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

I'm sorry....I didn't kill anyone when I was a teenage...I threw some eggs at cars once though...are those comparable to you?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

@Dog teenage years were a long time ago but I'm pretty sure I do not have any "stones" like murder. Okay...yes I did sneak beer from my Dad's case in the garage....and I got caught and grounded...never stole anything, never [and still won't] have a drink or two and drive, or murdered anyone.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

@Eyeheart2, If the person who you were in a fight with was bigger than you, and he had pummeled you, you are going to say the thought of going after that person did not enter your mind at 17? I will point out that have you ever watched professional sports? Guys punch, kick and bite each other. They take revenge the way they know how. This kid killed somebody who he feel wronged him. He was wrong to do it, but HE WAS 17. Of course, our society teaches that might makes right and the toughest strongest biggest guy is the one who wins.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

I'm a huge proponent of second chances for stupid things - smearing crap on a cop car, cutting down the tennis nets etc. Not a big fan of second chances for people who went home, got a knife and stuffed it into the chest of somebody.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

A sentence is a punishment. A crime, once committed, cannot be reversed. I don't care how young you are, if you found religion, or if you became a teacher or a counselor while in prison, it doesn't erase the fact that a crime was committed.

Basic Bob

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

No one is claiming the crime went away. But we *routinely* put *kids* in prison for life. It deserves examination whether this is the right way to handle it. The judge may very well rule against him. I'm glad I don't have to choose.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

"This is a guy who got dealt a real raw hand in life" Everybody gets dealt a hand. It all depends on how you play that hand. At the age of 16, he knew well enough that it is wrong to kill someone. He lost that hand. I have no problem letting him out when he is 135 years old.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Unconstitutional is unconstitutional. Why does Shuette not understand that? How is it possible for it to be unconstitutional to sentence someone to life but NOT have it be retroactive?

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

You could try reading the briefs. That's pretty much what they're about.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

If you are OK letting him out, I hope you would be OK with him living next to you. Or - is it OK if he gets out as long as he stays East of Carpenter?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

@EyeHeartA2: I think there are enough of these types of people living East of Carpenter. We should relocate all of these people that get out early over on the West Side of Ann Arbor next door to the ACLU Members that are working so hard to get these guys out.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

"...Campbell, who was described as being much bigger than Smith, hit Smith repeatedly on the head with a milk crate, court records said. ..." I guess everyone read it wrong. He got beat up. He got beat up by a much bigger and stronger individual. Not saying what he did is right and purely not self defense. But before you commment read it correctly. He was younger and smaller got beat up and came back for his revenge. He was 16 and defending himself in a way maybe not the right way but he felt as if he was.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Dante--self defense is an immediate reaction. Going home to get a knife to kill someone shows premeditation.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

"and came back for his revenge." That's the problem....


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I hold conflicting views on this subject. First off, there is *no way* we should let individuals who have committed first degree murder back into society. Second, I agree that it's wrong commit a juvenile to prison for the rest of their lives. It's a burden on society, and cruel punishment to the youth. My views on this subject have been controversial. As sad as it sounds, I often believe that society should simply "put down" any youth who commits these acts, in the same way that we put down domestic and wild animals who attack people. It's better for society, not having to deal with a convicted killer in its midst, and better for the youth, who will not be subjected to a life of incarceration. You cannot rectify the original crime, but you can save a lot of grief and heartache for the individual and society after the fact.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

@JohnnyA2: You will find that "murder" defines very specifically an "unlawful killing," specifically with "malice aforethought." That is why capital punishment is not murder, nor is abortion (despite many individual's attempts to define it otherwise).


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

@ Go Navy, You do realize you said "As a civil culture, we cannot tolerate murderers in any form among us" What do you thinking "putting them down is? IT IS MURDER. I could also point out wrongful convictions of people on death row. I guess you would just consider that a cost of doing business. The ENTIRE justice system is based on the principle that it is better to have 1000 guilty go free, then to have one innocent be jailed. Crime can be solved very quickly in this country and in any place else. Iran,. North Korea all use these methods. For the record, if he bought a car and did not like the contract NO MATTER what the court thought, the 17 year old could nullify the contract just because they felt like it. So how can you justify that a person is an adult or they are not, and you can not reasonably say well for this they are and for that they aren't. It is dishonest at best.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

@Dante- I'm sorry for the situation you were put in. However, there are other stakeholders involved - namely, society. As a civil culture, we cannot tolerate murderers in any form among us. As taxpayers, we should not be overly burdened for decades through the incarceration of individuals who will never again see the light of day.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I disagree. I have been in that situation and killing that individual does nothing to take away the heartache and grief. It does nothing to rectif ythe situation at all. Just another person dead.

music to my ear

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

as of now 17 years olds are being tried as adults,he has only been in prison 21 years give him another 30 years and maybe by time he is out he will be tire and old collect soc sec and not able to do any crimes I think thats fair.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

"The two had fought earlier in the day because Smith brushed up against the shoes of another young man, according to court records. Campbell, who was described as being much bigger than Smith, hit Smith repeatedly on the head with a milk crate, court records said." On another looks like a bully is dead.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

You hit it on the head. It's a terrible cycle, Bill. And the way we deal with it is to put kids in jail for life.

Susan Ursus

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

Whoa, he returned with a knife? Sorry, not self-defense. If he must be resentenced, change it from mandatory life to 150 years. Problem solved.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

"The two had fought earlier in the day because Smith brushed up against the shoes of another young man, " And for that he beat up and then went BACK to kill another human being? NO. He could have just walked away. But he came BACK. He made that decision and now he has to live with it. LOCKED UP. He took a life, and at that age and for what he did, he's an adult. I will gladly have my tax dollars go to keeping him just where he is.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Didn't boondocks mention this....after chris rock mentioned it? LIFE IN PRISON....cause someone smudged your Pumas...(which are terrible shoes imo)


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

You bet he's different now. He's bigger, older and probably had plenty of time to hone his skills. Let me see. I can get married at 17. Vote at 18. Drive a car at 16. Join the army.... etc. All adult activities. But, if I decide to beat someone and then return later to kill them (a very adult activity) I shouldn't be held accountable because I'm 17? Don't think so. Keep him where he belongs: locked up tight.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

@johnny: he killed as an adult. and, yes, you can get married and can be emancipated etc etc. bottom line is this: he killed as an adult. he should therefore do time as an adult.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

1. You can NOT get married at 17 without parents permission 2. You can not legally sign a contract 3. You can not legally drink 4. In fact, if a naked image of him t 17 was discovered on a person over 18 years of age that person could be convicted of having CHILD pornography. You can't have it both ways. Either he is a minor or he is not.