Trials set in Baldwin murder

Two men will likely be co-defendants in homicide of Big Rapids man

LAKE COUNTY — Two trials scheduled for men charged with the murder of a Big Rapids man could be combined after a May 3 hearing.

Trials are tentatively scheduled to begin on June 4 for Jerome Lewis and on July 9 for Arthur Jones; however, the men likely will appear as co-defendants in one trial on a yet-to-be-determined date, said Lake County Prosecutor Michael Riley.

“I am planning to file a motion to join them, but that decision will be up to the judge,” Riley said. “Sometimes, even when multiple people are involved in one event, if there’s substantive evidence that there’s a difference between them, that might result in them being tried separately. … But after talking with Det. George Pratt and (Lake County Sheriff’s) Det. (Harold) Nichols, we believe that the witness would be virtually identical. We’re not aware of anything else that would mandate separate trials.”

Jones, 34, of Grand Rapids, and Lewis, 36, of Bitely, each are charged with one count of open murder for the death of Andrew Jerome Smith. Smith, 31, of Big Rapids, was found dead of a gunshot wound on the side of 72nd Street in Baldwin on July 23, 2011.

Barring any objections from Jones and Lewis’ defense attorneys, Riley anticipates a week-long trial for both men to begin sometime in June.