by Keith Barber

Items from across the Triad and beyond 

Winston-Salem police chief: Forsyth DA’s office did not participate in Silk Plant Forest review

Winston-Salem Police Chief Scott Cunningham says the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office did not suggest any changes to an internal review of the 1995 Jill Marker-Silk Plant Forest case because the DA’s office was never asked for its input during the review process. “This was an internal review of the case and investigation,” Cunningham stated in an e-mail message. “The report is the product of the internal police department committee that was tasked with responding to the recommendations of the citizens review committee and the additional tasks that we instituted such as a review of the case and the manner in which the [Winston-Salem Police Department] handled the investigation.” Cunningham said the district attorney’s office was notified when the police internal review turned up evidence collected during the Silk Plant Forest investigation that was never tested. The police department sent out the evidence, which was comprised of Jill Marker’s clothes and a piece of cardboard with blood and hair on it, to the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab last March. On July 21, after two rounds of “touch” DNA testing, the only DNA that could be found belonged to Marker. The absence of male DNA, however, did not rule out Kalvin Michael Smith — the man convicted of brutally assaulting Marker during an armed robbery of the Silk Plant Forest shop in December 1995— as a suspect, Cunningham said. The district attorney’s office received a copy of the internal review when it was made public on Nov. 5, Cunningham said. “The report is the product of that review and internal assessment and the committee stands behind the report,” he added.

winston-salem City Council approves suburban area plan

By a vote of 5-3, the Winston-Salem City Council approved the South Suburban Area Plan during its regular meeting on Monday. The lack of consensus on the council reflected the division in the community on what could become a blueprint for growth and development in the southern part of Forsyth County. Residents from the Sides Road area, which lies east of Peters Creek Parkway, objected to the city’s proposal to designate that area for office and moderate-density residential development, such as apartments. Currently, Sides Road is zoned for single-family residential. During a public hearing, a number of residents complained that the community meetings held last year on the suburban area plan were “hostile,” and property owners were shut out of the process. Council member Molly Leight, who represents the city’s South Ward, reminded those in attendance that the adoption of the plan does not constitute a rezoning of anything. Leight then made a motion to adopt the plan. Council member Robert Clark asked why the city council couldn’t reconsider its recommendations for the Sides Road area. Council member Wanda Merschel asked Leight if she would consider amending her motion to adopt 90 percent of the plan and make allowance for a compromise on the Sides Road area. “No,” Leight responded. “I stand by the motion.” Leight, along with council members Dan Besse, Denise D. Adams, James Taylor and Vivian Burke voted in favor of adopting the plan while Merschel, Clark and council member Derwin Montgomery voted in opposition.