Prosecutor: DNA found in attacks
January 11, 2020
LANCASTER – A state prisoner accused in a series of violent sexual assaults in Lancaster in 2003 is linked to the crimes through DNA evidence and by victims who identified him years later as their assailant, a prosecutor said Monday. DNA evidence against 23-year-old Jacob Renald Smith includes samples found on a white plastic cup from which the attacker drank water and a bandanna that he wore and used to tie a victim’s hands, a prosecutor said in opening statements of Smith’s trial. “There are several types of evidence, which will be testified to, that indicate Jacob Smith is the person who committed these crimes,” Deputy District Attorney Kelly Cromer said. Smith, imprisoned since September 2004 for a San Bernardino County burglary, was linked later to the Lancaster sex crimes under a state law that requires all felons to submit DNA to a database that can be accessed by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Smith’s attorney, Dale Atherton, did not make an opening statement on Monday. The trial is scheduled to resume today. Smith, who was being held in lieu of $12 million bail, has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges that he assaulted four women, shot a fifth and was defied by a sixth who managed to call 911 on her cell phone despite threats to kill her and her child. Smith is charged in six incidents in 2003 involving assaults, sex crimes – including some against women who had small children with them – and a home-invasion robbery in which a woman in her 60s was shot in the chest. Interviewed by detectives in June 2005, Smith at first denied any involvement, but then changed his story after being told that DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, Cromer said. In one incident, Smith said he and a woman simply got into a scuffle. Smith claimed “it was a case of sex for drugs” with four of the victims, Cromer said. In the home-invasion robbery, Smith claimed the gun went off accidentally, Cromer said. “In all six of the incidents, the defendant admitted he did have contact with the women and was the person they were talking about,” the prosecutor said. Some of the assaults occurred in daylight in public places – including a park, a coin laundry and a parking lot – within a 1 1/2-mile radius of central Lancaster, near where Smith lived in early 2003, officials said. All but two of the six attacks occurred before late March, when sheriff’s officials released a composite drawing of the man who had sexually assaulted two women and tried to assault a third. Two days after the drawing was released publicly, a man fitting the rapist’s description bicycled up to the rural east Lancaster home of an elderly mother and daughter and asked for a drink of water and to use their phone. He shot the younger woman and robbed the home. Then the attacks stopped until August, when a woman walking near Lancaster City Park was forced down the side of an Antelope Valley Freeway overpass and assaulted. Seven weeks later, Smith was arrested as an ex-felon in possession of a gun, and he was sent to prison for 7 1/2 months. Three months after getting out, he was back in prison on the San Bernardino County burglary conviction. In January 2003, a victim was attacked while on a morning walk in an open field near Avenue K-8 and Gadsden Avenue, Cromer said. A bicyclist passed her, asked her for the time and then ordered her to stop. “She was knocked to the ground, slapped in the face, and her head was pulled back by her hair,” Cromer said. In February 2003, a woman who was visiting relatives stopped at a doughnut shop at Division Street and Avenue K to ask for directions, Cromer said. Her 4-year-old son and a pet dog were in the back seat. A man got into the passenger seat, and the victim drove him to an alley after he pulled out a handgun. After she refused to perform a sex act, the man shoved the gun in her mouth, chipping a tooth and cutting her, Cromer said. The man fled after she was able to return to her car and call 911 from her cell phone, Cromer said. In March 2003, a woman washing clothes at an East Avenue J coin laundry was forced at gunpoint to perform a sex act while she held her 5-year-old daughter. “The child said, `Don’t hurt my mommy.’ The suspect said to turn around and don’t look,” Cromer said. About two weeks later, another woman was sexually assaulted near Tierra Bonita Park in east Lancaster at gunpoint after a man came up to her car and produced a sawed-off shotgun, Cromer said. “He tied her hands with a bandanna that was on his head, took the keys and left,” Cromer said. [email protected] (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!