by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green


Items from across the Triad and beyond by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Lawsuit involving Latin King and security guard settled

A lawsuit involving an altercation between a public transit patron and a private security officer at the Depot in July 2008 has been settled out of court. Russell Kilfoil, a member of the Latin Kings street organization, filed suit against security officer Byron Meadows and Lankford Protective services last June, alleging he was assaulted, battered and falsely imprisoned by Meadows, and alleging that the security company breached its duty by failing to sufficiently investigate and discipline its employee’s conduct. A December 2008 investigation by the Greensboro Human Relations Department concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination was at play in the incident based on Kilfoil’s national origin, which is Latino, in conjunction with his age and gender. A Guilford County jury deadlocked last November over a misdemeanor assault charge against Meadows. Chris Brooks of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who was representing Kilfoil, said on Sunday that the settlement includes a $13,500 payout for his client. — JG

Some evidence in Silk Plant Forest case never tested, police say

Some pieces of evidence seized during the Winston-Salem police investigation of the 1995 Silk Plant Forest-Jill Marker assault case were never sent out for testing, police Chief Scott Cunningham said in a statement on March 3. The evidence was not admitted at the trial of Kalvin Michael Smith, the man convicted of the crime, and will now be tested “to determine if it contains any identifiable forensic information,” Cunningham said. In 1997, a Forsyth County jury convicted Smith of the brutal beating of Jill Marker and armed robbery of the Silk Plant Forest shop. Smith is currently serving a 23-to-29-year prison sentence. He has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. Marker suffered significant brain damage in the attack and now requires 24-hour care.

Marker’s clothes, a piece of cardboard with blood and hair on it and cigarette butts found at the scene will be tested. The items are listed on inventory sheets of physical evidence seized by police investigators in 1995, which were provided to both the district attorney’s office and Smith’s defense lawyer, William Speaks, according to Cunningham’s statement.

“Apparently, no one ever asked that it be tested,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham announced three changes to department policy as a result of an internal review into the Silk Plant Forest case. On a related note, Superior Court Judge Richard Stone ordered the full release of the Silk Plant Forest Citizens Review Committee report, including exhibits that contain information about police actions during the criminal investigation, on March 2. Stone stayed his order 10 days to give eight current and former police officers a chance to appeal his ruling. — KTB

Greensboro development ordinance picked apart

Greensboro planning staff has been incorporating input from various constituents in response to an outpouring of objection from property owners over the proposed overhaul of the city’s development ordinance. A recent document produced by the planning department outlines a number of concessions made by staff in response to comments made at a Feb. 9 public hearing. Staff agreed to

• Reduce the street connectivity ratio from 1.4 to 1.3, and to exempt small lots, new developments with more intensive uses in response to concerns raised by representatives of the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress and Koury Corp;

• Eliminate allowing twin homes in singlefamily zoned tracts in respond to a widespread outcry from residential property owners;

• Remove a provision requiring wider lot standards for office, commercial and multifamily lots in response to objections by political consultant Bill Burckley, the Triad Real Estate and Building Industries Coalition and the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress;

• Add back in an agricultural district in response to concern from property owner Jonathan Ballinger;

• Remove a provision requiring each new single-family lot to have a tree because of opposition from some citizen advisory team members who argue that the requirement would create undue costs for new developments.

The one-tree requirement has attracted public support from former Councilmember Goldie Wells and the Advisory Commission on Trees, but several members of the current council have indicated they won’t support it. The planning document states, “Staff feels there are good reasons to keep this proposed standard, but recognize there is significant opposition to it. Therefore staff supports removal of this standard, but feels it should be accompanied by establishment of a residential ‘tree fund’ from private donations, which could provide a ‘voucher’ for a free tree for [single-family] builders.”

One question: Public assistance for developers? — JG