WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- Winston-Salem Police say Kalvin Smith -- the man who served 20 years in prison while proclaiming innocence in the Silk Plant Forest case -- is in the hospital after being shot.
Investigators say the shooting happened just before 9 p.m. Friday on the 900 block of N. Jackson Ave. Police found Smith lying on the sidewalk, and EMS transported him to a local hospital. Police say as of Saturday morning, he is in critical condition but stable.
The NAACP told WFMY News 2 Saturday morning it was the same Smith that served 20 years in prison after being convicted of assaulting Silk Plant Forest store owner Jill Marker. A judge granted him time served in November 2016, and he walked out of the Forsyth County Correctional Center a free man. He says he is innocent and has continued legal efforts to be exonerated.
On the day of Smith's release, his father, Augustus Dark, told WFMY News 2 he was excited to finally have his son home.
"There's no way in the world I can tell you what 20 years of this has been like," he said. "Not having my son, who's innocent, incarcerated and away from his family, it's just been a day-to-day turmoil just worried about his safety. But, on this day, God provided and he sent my son home."
For the past decade, several organizations have advocated for Smith's release, saying he was wrongly convicted. Last summer, the NAACP sent letters to then-Governor Pat McCrory and then-Attorney General Roy Cooper asking them to review the case.
Pastor John Mendez with the Winston-Salem branch of the NAACP has been one of Smith's strongest advocates during his fight to be released from prison.
He says the community is hurting with Smith during this time.
"It's a tragedy and we are all sorry that it happened," said Mendez.
Mendez says the community stood behind Smith during his fight for release from prison and will stand behind him again as he fights for his life.
"The community will wrap their arms around him and help him get through this period and participate in his healing," said Mendez.
Rev. William Barber of the state's NAACP said he and several other advocacy groups will continue to fight until Smith is exonerated.
At the time of this report, Smith is at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in critical but stable condition.
Investigators do not have a suspect description and have not released a motive either.
Police say they're interviewing neighbors and witnesses.
WSPD wants anyone with information on the shooting to call the police headquarters at 336-773-7700 or CrimeStoppers at 336-727-2800 (tips to this line can be anonymous and payable by a reward).