Not guilty

A Grand Haven man accused of writing a racial statement on an apartment wall was declared not guilty early this afternoon in Ottawa County Circuit Court.
Becky Vargo
Feb 22, 2013

Kenneth Schmidt pumped his fist in the air in victory after the verdict was read at 12:30 p.m.

His daughter, Amy Sue Schmidt, wiped a tear from her eye and smiled.

Once released from the courtroom Schmidt grabbed his daughter in a bear hug, then charged down the courthouse stairs yelling "not guilty," as he continued to pump his fist in the air.

The 56-year-old man was charged with ethnic intimidation and malicious destruction of a building under $200 following a May 8, 2012, incident at the Williamsburg Court Apartments, 1106 Beacon Boulevard.

An African American man had just finished painting an apartment and had left to move some supplies. When he returned 10 minutes later he found someone had written on the wall, "We don't want any n****** working here."

Schmidt, who lived at another building in the complex, had been in this particular building to help a relative move in to her new apartment.

Police used handwriting to connect Schmidt to the incident.

"We were familiar with him," said Det. Bryan Tiethof of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

Prosecuting Attorney John Scheuerle said he thought they had a compelling case.

"I'm disappointed in the verdict," he said. "But, as always, I respect the jury's verdict."

Read the complete story in Saturday's Tribune and e-edition.

 

Comments

tluvst

Just trying to figure this out...it reads not guilty...then why is the article still written in a way to appear that he was still guilty? He said he said he didn't do it and the jurors agreed.

Back to the Wall

What was the crime? Vandalism? Not guilty. Big deal, no one lifted a finger when I reported spray painted graffiti on a brick wall near downtown.

Racism? Oh, then that's the real problem. He's not guilty of that either, but the thought police need a boogeyman. They have their muscle, here at the press, but they need to have targets, those who can be pilloried.

Our handlers cannot allow this act of thought crime to go unpunished. Even though a jury has ratified this man's innocence, he is still the only available target for our vile intolerance of political incorrectness and views (no matter how reprehensible) different from our own.

Did they get the wrong guy?
Was it a hung jury?
Tainted evidence?

We'll never know. All that matters is that we have someone we can point our dirty little fingers at and call names for thoughts he may (or may not) be thinking.

These are sad times indeed.

zwesterhouse

He is a free man - didn't do it.

ryerye7242

So what I want to know is of this man isn't guilty who is going to help him find somewhere to live since he got kicked out of the place this happened and is he going to get some compensation for everything he had to go through with people thinking he did this crime and I hope they find who truly did this

Lisa413

Well who did it? Does the jury understand what racial intimidation? I don't get it?

Woodrow

Has anyone thought that the Black guy wrote the slur? Remember Tawana Brawley? Remember Duke U? Maybe the police should look in another direction instead of looking for a white guy to blame to satisfy politically correct BS. Hope Schmidt sues the city.

GHJames

Wow Woodrow. Just because he's found not guilty doesn't mean the victim lied. Talk about a world record longjump to conclusions! It doesn't mean you sue somebody either. He got his due process the way it was intended. If everyone who was found not guilty could sue because the prosecution delivered the facts and the facts are not enough, then the incentive for prosecutors and police to lie so they have an airtight case would be overwhelming. And save your breath about the corrupt legal system, every time I see a not guilty verdict it proves to me the cops, lawyers, jury, did things honestly regardless of what I personally think of someones guilt.

unclejoe

Racism is so dangerous, merely an accusation should be enough to convict. The accused must be punished to ensure that any hint of this treachery does not go unpunished. With the cooperation of the fifth estate the racist elements will surrender their co-conspirators and society can be free to live a safe existence.

tartarus12

unclejoe, you are a racist. Now I'm going to hold you to your word and expect you to turn yourself in for punishment. How much time do you think you should do, 5 years?

I don't know where you think you live but if just an accusation is enough to convict someone of a crime, it isn't a place I want to live.

unclejoe

Been called worse but aha, this sly dog will have already turned you in, comrade. The state will decide what is best..........Svetlana, get me a cold beer and my copy of the 5 year plan, and yeah get the Spetnaz out to round up tartarus 12.
dasveedAnja

Say No To Tourist's

So quick to jump to conclusions, since ya'll are so into social media.
Guess everyone missed this....

The biggest three pieces of "not guilty" evidence seemed to be (1) State Police "CSI" saying the written material DID NOT come from Ken Schmidt (Who willingly turned in over 40 pages of handwriting examples) and (2) a tape of the police interview of Schmidt lasting over an hour taken while he was in a highly intoxicated condition and (3) indisputible proof that he was at another location during the "window of opportunity" during which the crime was commited.

rainbowjoe

The jury has issued its decision and we have to respect that. Our system is based on juries and the rule of law and, for the most part, it works. Whoever did this was a bonehead, nothing more. Good luck to you, Mr. Schmidt.

Lisa413

I respect the juries decision, but I don't understand what made him a suspect in the first place? Was there some suspicious behavior that led to scmidt? I guess I don't understand what led to his arrest in the first place and why it went to trial if no evidence? My question, is who did it...and is he still out there?

Linetwo

Wow, our zealous prosecutors and detectives must have slept through Facts 101. What is it they didn't understand about the handwriting samples and his lock-tight alibi showing Ken to be somewhere else besides the scene of the crime? And what did this sham trial cost us taxpayers? Congratulations Mr. Schmidt for receiving justice, it is becoming more and more scarce.

rainbowjoe

I know nothing more about this than what I've read, but it does get curiouser and curiouser. How did he become the suspect if he had a strong alibi? My guess is that our minders have to jump when someone shouts racism and, unfortunately, Mr. Schmidt was handy.

Unrepresented

A couple troubling things: 1)The taxpayer's dollars it took to prosecute. Apparently our County Prosecutor knew the case would fail or he would of been prosecuting the case himself, for the publicity. 2) In the in-print story the Tribune reporter felt it necessary to write that there were a Hispanic and an Asian-American on the Jury. She should of said 'there were no Afro-Americans on the jury'. It was a sloppy case, and the reporting was sloppy as well.

speedypro2000

i cant believe they think ken schmidt would do this the police dept should investagate better i could tell u this i grew up in grand haven and know kenny he would not do such a thing kenny loves everybody e is a good father and a good cizten he gets along with everybody and i think the police should apoligze good luck kenny

The Guy

Ok, Mr. Schmidt's now going to wear the Scarlet Letter in this town because Mr.John Scheurle, the ass't prosecuting atty reaffirmed in post trial interview they had the right guy. The Grand Haven Tribune so much as begged people to not listen to the not guilty verdict.

I hope Mr.Schmidt walks into Geoffrey Fieger's office and hire's him to sue the pants off Grand Haven. This was the Salem Witch Trials Grand Haven style. I agree with another post about looking into the accuser's hand samples.

GrandHavenJohn

I remember that the Tribune article from when this happened said that Schmidt did the same thing a couple weeks before to someone else, and that he admitted it but wasn't charged. Also that he admitted it was his handwriting on the wall for this, but he didn't remember doing it. How does he get off when he obviously did it? The comments here make it clear that racism is alive and well in Grand Haven.

GrandHavenJohn

Here's the story that describes the other incident that he also admitted doing:

http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/l...

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