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Charlottesville Corner shooter accomplice pleads guilty

The woman who punched and kicked a young man last December as he lay bleeding on a city sidewalk after taking a gunshot to the chest pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of malicious wounding.

Thirty-year-old Mariah Shavone Smith faces up to two decades behind bars for attacking the wounded individual on 14th Street in the Corner neighborhood of Charlottesville.

“Do you understand that the maximum penalty is 20 years?” asked Judge Claude Worrell.

“Yes, sir,” replied Smith, dressed in a red jail jumpsuit with restraint chains in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Smith’s plea comes a month after her boyfriend, the shooter, pleaded guilty to three charges that could lock him up for 40 years. The 29-year-old Anthony Marcus Paige tendered his pleas July 25 and faces sentencing in October.

Just as she did at Paige’s plea hearing, prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony showed the court a surveillance video that captured what transpired over the course of one minute in the early hours of Dec. 18, a Sunday.

“Pretty much the entirety of the incident was captured on video,” said Antony.

The video shows the victim, Airrick Salisbury, a 24-year-old employee at the University of Virginia’s Runk Dining Hall, reportedly out celebrating a friend’s birthday, engaged in an argument outside of Christian’s Pizza.

“There’s nothing physical about that altercation,” said Antony.

Then, two cars pull up, and Paige and Smith emerge from one of the cars and get into an argument Salisbury.

“The victim tries to walk around the group,” Antony told the court.

Paige then attacks Salisbury with a flurry of punches, but when Salisbury suddenly fends off Paige by grabbing his legs and decking him, the man on his back fires a gunshot into Salisbury’s chest at point-blank range.

As two police cars near the railroad bridge at the foot of 14th Street and illuminate their lights, Smith rushes over to the fallen Salisbury and delivers four punches and then four kicks to the head of the gravely injured young man.

Time stamps on the video show that the entire incident transpired between 2:17 a.m. and 2:18 a.m. What the video does not show was why Paige and Smith, who Antony described as having no connection to Salisbury, chose to attack him.

Antony said that Salisbury spent several weeks in a surgical intensive care unit. Even now, she told the court, more than eight months after the shooting, Salisbury remains unhealed.

“He is still currently undergoing significant physical therapy,” she said.

Neither Smith nor her attorney, Jessica F. Phillips from the office of the public defender, offered any explanation in court Thursday, but Phillips hinted at some future biography.

“We’re going to be presenting pretty significant evidence regarding Ms. Smith,” Phillips told the judge.

Phillips already provided some personal history for her client during a February bond hearing. Phillips said then that Smith has experienced significant trauma, including witnessing the murder of one of her own children. At that same hearing, Smith’s mother testified that her daughter relies on multiple prescription medications, has had trouble holding jobs and, around the time of her arrest, had been living in Staunton and caring for a young son with special needs.

The judge agreed to the prosecution’s request for a victim impact statement, ordered a presentence investigation and set Smith’s sentencing for Jan. 9.

That’s not, however, the end of Smith’s legal troubles. She is slated to go to court in Waynesboro on Sept. 22 to face a contempt charge on a pending drug case. The contempt charge was triggered by her malicious wounding arrest which may have violated her promise to remain on good behavior.


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