GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of killing a Lansing toddler appeared again in a federal courthouse in Grand Rapids Monday morning.

Rashad Trice, 26, pleaded not guilty to kidnapping a minor and kidnapping resulting in death at arraignment, the U.S. attorney said. That was expected.

He’s accused of kidnapping 2-year-old Wynter Cole-Smith after assaulting her mother, his ex-girlfriend, in her Lansing home on July 2. An Amber Alert was issued for Wynter, who was later found dead in Detroit.

A federal criminal complaint in the case of 2-year-old Wynter Cole-Smith was released Friday.
A federal criminal complaint in the case of 2-year-old Wynter Cole-Smith was released Friday.

In court, the judge shared some of the evidence that could be used in the trial, including cellphone data, recorded interviews and data from license plate readers.

“The alleged facts in this case are staggering,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten told reporters outside the Grand Rapids courthouse, going on to offer condolences to Wynter’s family. “My office is fully prepared to do everything necessary to establish the facts beyond a reasonable doubt that is necessary to prove these charges. And we’ll always do everything we can to protect children in these cases and ensure that people are held accountable.”

Totten also thanked the law enforcement agencies that worked to find Wynter and capture Trice, who was arrested July 3 following a police chase and crash in the Detroit area. Investigators believe Wynter was strangled with a cellphone cord.

“When this whole terrible situation started, the law enforcement family across Michigan made a commitment: a commitment to find Wynter, to return her to her family and deliver justice for these heinous crimes,” Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan Devin Kowalski, standing next to Totten, said Monday. “Wynter’s fate brings unimaginable grief to her loved ones and that grief is shared by the community and those of us in law enforcement. But for us, our sadness is outmatched by our commitment, focus and resolve on supporting the prosecution.”

Trice also faces 20 state-level charges, including murder, in a case being handled by the state attorney general.

Trice’s attorneys and the government have both requested a jury trial in the federal case and suggested that trial could take about eight days. If convicted of the kidnapping resulting in death charge, Trice faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and would eligible for the death penalty under federal law — a penalty Michigan does not have.