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Letter to the editor
Community's support in trying times appreciated
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Forsyth County News


As the immediate family of Michael Smith, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of the good people of Forsyth County who investigated the tragic events of his death and brought it to closure for us with a guilty verdict and life sentence for Jill Smith. We are grateful to the firefighters and police who rushed to the scene that night in an attempt to save Michael’s life. Lt. Debbie Lindstrom’s (arson investigator) diligence and commitment to this case was professional and thorough. We want to thank her for becoming Michael’s voice and his champion. Sgt. Sebastian Strano and his team spent countless hours interviewing everyone relating to that night and events surrounding it. Our thanks to them for finding the truth.

We are indebted to everyone in the DA’s office for the hard work and concern they gave to Michael’s case. DA Penny Penn and Assistant DA James Dunn have spent the last year gathering and considering all the evidence, interviewing potential witnesses, studying complicated scientific tests of evidence, and then bringing all of that together into a concise trial. Rhonda Sorrells (victims advocate) was a compassionate friend as she kept us informed and grounded while we waited 16 months for the trial. Andy Kalin, investigator for the DA, also worked to move this multi-faceted process along. Judge Dickinson handled the court proceedings with fairness for all involved.

We are also grateful to the jurors who took over two weeks out of their lives to listen to testimony and details of an experience that no one should have to endure... and for their careful deliberation of all the evidence to reach a verdict.

None of this brings Michael back, but it all honors his life and the memory of a good man who did not deserve to die. We would like the people of Forsyth County to know that you have an amazing team of good people dedicated to justice and truth working for you. We have found peace through this process ... our extended family and Michael’s many friends are grateful for justice served ... and we feel that Michael can now be at peace. Thank you.

Heather Cramer, Phil Smith, Claire Little

Durham, N.C.