URBANA — A 26-year-old woman who said she was slugged, robbed and raped at knifepoint by a man who held her by the hair the whole time said she recognized her attacker but didn't let on to him that she did.
The woman testified before a Champaign County jury Tuesday morning that Dominique Alexander-Smith, 22, who lived in a nearby apartment at the Countrybrook Apartments in the 2500 block of West Springfield Avenue, Champaign, was the man who broke in her apartment and attacked her last Aug. 25.
Alexander-Smith is charged with home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated criminal sexual assault. His trial before Judge Tom Difanis started Monday and was expected to go to the jury Wednesday.
The woman said she arrived home about 9 p.m. Aug. 24 and noticed her front door knob was loose and her patio door open a crack. Finding both unusual, she contacted the maintenance person.
She was in bed asleep about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 25 when a friend called, waking her. As she tried to go back to sleep after the call, she heard the vertical blinds in the kitchen hitting each other, then someone walking on broken glass.
She said she looked down the hall and saw a man she identified as Alexander-Smith near the broken sliding glass door. From light that was on, she recognized him as living in a nearby apartment and the same man who had come in her place about a week earlier with another neighbor.
The woman turned to run to her bedroom for her cellphone, only to be grabbed by the hair from behind. The assailant put an object to her back that she later figured out was a butcher knife from her kitchen.
"He threw me on the bed and said he needed money for Jo Jo," she said, a reference to her estranged boyfriend who had been arrested for violating an order of protection she had against him. Alexander-Smith, she said, was a friend of her ex-boyfriend's.
She said as he swung the knife at her she shielded herself with a blanket. She grabbed at the knife in an attempt to break the blade and ended up being cut in the hand and on the leg.
"He punched me in the face at least twice," she said, the blow breaking a tooth.
Under questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber, the woman said she thought she was going to die and pleaded with him to leave. She was two months pregnant at the time and told him she was. She said he could have her debit card and the personal identification number for it. She gave it to him, hoping he would leave, but she said he then unzipped his pants.
While still holding her by the hair, he lifted her shirt.
"All I could think about was my baby," she said.
"I thought I would pass out," she said of the "excruciating" pain of the sexual assault.
When he was finished, "he asked me if he had to tie me up and said that if I ever told anyone he would come back and kill me."
After promising him she would say nothing, the attacker left. She said she heard her front door slam and shattered glass from the sliding door fall to the floor. She then wrapped herself in a comforter and ran from the apartment across the street to an apartment in the 2100 block of West White Street where she pounded on a door to get help.
Roderic Morgan testified the woman was hysterical, her jaw was swollen, and her lip bleeding. He said she told him she'd been beaten and raped. After calling 911, he offered her clothing.
After being treated for several hours at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, the woman returned to her apartment to get clothing so she could go to her mother's. She saw Alexander-Smith standing on the balcony of another apartment in the complex and called police, who arrested him based on her identification.
On cross-examination by Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, the woman denied that she agreed to have sex with Alexander-Smith or that she had any prior relationship with him. Vargas maintained in his opening statement that the sex was consensual.
The woman also said she ran across the street to another apartment complex rather than to one of her nearby neighbors because she feared her attacker was still in the building.
Asked about inconsistencies in what she told different police officers within minutes of the attack, the woman said she was "hysterical and a little ashamed."