TORONTO – Prosecutors downgraded first-degree murder charges Friday against a man accused in the death of Anthony Smith, who gained notoriety after a photo surfaced that appeared to show him with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Hanad Mohamed, 23, is now facing charges of accessory after the fact to manslaughter, accessory to committing aggravated assault and accessory to discharging a firearm.
He is charged in connection with the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Smith outside a Toronto nightclub in March.
A photo emerged in May, after Smith’s death, that appeared to show him standing with Ford and another man.
The decision by the Crown to lower the charges “showed a lot of moral courage” and was “commendable”, said Mohamed’s lawyer, Fariborz Davoudi.
“(Mohamed’s) extremely pleased about that, I’m very pleased about that, the whole family is very pleased,” he said.
“It’s good,” said Sagal Ugass, Mohamed’s aunt. She said her nephew, who appeared in court by video link, was doing well.
Mohamed will appear in court again on July 31.
The decision was expected, Davoudi said, and is consistent with the charges dropped against the former co-accused.
Nisar Hashimi was initially charged with first-degree murder, but was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and sentenced to nine years.
The agreed statement of facts in Hashimi’s case said there was “ongoing animosity” between 23-year-old Hashimi and his associates, and Smith and Muhammad Khattak – alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods gang.
According to the statement, Hashimi pulled out a gun and fired several shots in rapid succession.
However, it says he “acted instinctively” and did not intend to kill Smith.
Smith’s death received extra attention after an image that appeared to show Ford with his arm around a man believed to be Smith circulated along with reports that drug dealers were trying to sell an alleged video appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Ford has denied the picture indicates he has ties to drug dealers, saying he takes pictures with a lot of people.
He has also said that he does not use crack cocaine and the alleged video does not exist.
Global News has not seen the video and cannot verify its authenticity.