Michael Smith Indicted in Murder of Paul Danzo

Michael Smith, 33, was arraigned last Friday on charges of first-degree murder while armed, and other related offenses in connection with the shooting death of 24-year-old Paul Aime Tanoh Danzo. The charges were part of a case that initially charged Smith as being an accessory to Danzo’s murder.

The case against Smith is not listed in court records, however, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s office said Smith pleaded innocent and would next appear in court Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in front of Judge Lynn Leibovitz.

Smith’s attorney, Douglas J. Wood, did not respond to a request for comment about the case status.

Police found Danzo on March 21 around 2:50 a.m. seated in the driver’s seat of a car parked on the 1000 block of 17th Street Northwest. He was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body and head, and transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

One month later Smith was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact with intent to kill while armed in Danzo’s death. But on September 20, Smith’s original charge was dismissed, and he was indicted on counts of first degree murder while armed, conspiracy, possession of a firearm, fleeing law enforcement, and assault with intent to kill while armed in connection with Danzo’s murder.

Charging documents state that Danzo was murdered after getting into a fight at a night club.

According to court documents, several hours before the murder, surveillance video captured a black BMW arrive at the Colonial Parking Garage located near the Balleto Club.

The footage shows two men exit the vehicle, one from the passenger side door wearing a baseball hat with a grey hoodie pulled up over it, and another black male exiting the driver’s side door with shoulder length dreadlocks, and a knit cap on his head, documents state.

Video footage shows the two men enter the Balleto Club with two additional males at 11:45 p.m. Nearly three hours later video footage captures Danzo and the man who exited the passenger side of the BMW, getting into a verbal argument in the club. Danzo turns to walk away, but the man pushes the back of Danzo’s hand. Danzo then turns and punches the man in the face and leaves the club; the man followed, documents state.

Documents state, that both men who arrived in the black BMW headed back to the parking garage to retrieve something from the vehicle. Video footage then shows the two men walk toward the direction where Danzo was, though, they don’t find him. The two men then go back to the parking garage to retrieve the black BMW from valet. At 2:43 a.m. they begin to drive toward the area where Danzo had parked his car, on 17th Street and L Street, charging documents state.

Court documents state that around 2:47 a.m. witnesses heard four gunshots coming from 17th Street, and saw a black male turn and rush toward a black BMW that fled the scene. An MPD officer who heard the gunshots pursued the fleeing car but lost sight of the vehicle while traveling north down 15th street, documents state.

According to police, an anonymous tip was received claiming that the driver of the BMW seen at the crime scene, was Michael Smith.

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