A D.C. Superior Court jury convicted Smith of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse after about a week of testimony and six hours of deliberations. Both the woman and Smith testified; he told the jury that he had spotted the woman walking down Wisconsin Avenue, began flirting with her and had sex with her after she consented.
The woman — a recent Georgetown University graduate at the time of the attack — testified that Smith came up from behind at the building she had gone behind for a bathroom break and grabbed her.
“I was terrified and angry,” she said. “It was frightening. I was fighting, clawing at his arm.”
She tried to call out, she said, but could not. “He was pressing against my windpipe,” she testified. “I didn’t have any air to scream.”
Smith asked for money, the woman said, and she offered her purse and the $15 in it. He then said he didn’t want it, the woman testified. The Washington Post generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Instead of taking the purse, the woman testified, Smith pushed her to the ground and raped her. She returned to Wisconsin Avenue, she testified, and hailed a cab; the driver called police from a nearby gas station.
The woman, now 24, testified for nearly five hours as Smith, seated next to his court-appointed attorney, scribbled notes. During his testimony, he told a different story.
After spotting the woman, Smith said, he pulled his car over and offered to wait with her as she sought a cab. They flirted. “I told her she had beautiful lips,” Smith said.
She told him about her studies, he said, and her work in marine biology. Smith testified about knowing several details of the woman’s life, which prosecutors argued during the trial he knew only because she had discussed them during her own testimony.
The two kissed, Smith testified, and she motioned to him to go behind a nearby building off Wisconsin Avenue.
“I pulled her — I mean, I walked with her,” Smith testified, correcting himself on the stand.
Authorities identified Smith because DNA evidence found on the victim matched DNA collected during a prior arrest on an identity theft charge in New Jersey. When he was arrested, prosecutors said, Smith initially denied meeting and having sex with a woman in Washington on June 13, 2010.
Prosecutors said that after they told Smith that they had his DNA, he said he had had sex with a prostitute. During his testimony, Smith denied those statements.
“I did not rape her,” he said, raising his voice.
When the jury foreman announced the verdicts Wednesday, Smith shook his head and mumbled again: “I did not rape her.”
The jury acquitted Smith of a charge of attempted robbery.
Judge Thomas J. Motley is scheduled to sentence Smith on Feb. 22. He could face a sentence of up to 50 years in prison.
Outside the courtroom, jurors said Smith’s attorneys failed to make their case. But Smith’s attorney Daniel A. Gross said his client plans to appeal. He said Smith, who is black, did not get a fair trial because all 12 jurors were white, as is the victim.
After the trial, Gross accused prosecutors Amy Zubrensky and Kenya Davis of intentionally removing nonwhites from the pool of prospective jurors to ensure an all-white panel. During jury selection, when both the prosecution and defense can select or strike potential jurors for a number of reasons, Gross petitioned Motley to diversify the jury, and a nonwhite man was added. He ended up as an alternate.
A person familiar with the jury-selection process said Motley told the attorneys that the government’s reasons for selecting and rejecting jurors were “nondiscriminatory.”
The racial makeup of the jury, unusual for a serious felony case in D.C. Superior Court, was discussed during deliberations, the jury foreman said, but did not factor into the verdict.
“It was mentioned because it was something people see,” he said. But “race didn’t factor into our decisions at all.”