Champaign man sentenced to 50 years in prison

URBANA — A Champaign man has been sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison for a brutal attack on his neighbor in her home last summer.

On Monday, Judge Tom Difanis sentenced Dominique Alexander-Smith, 22, who listed an address in the 2500 block of West Springfield Avenue, Champaign, to 20 years in prison for home invasion and 30 years in prison for aggravated criminal sexual assault. Both are Class X felonies.

"This was a brutal and senseless attack," Difanis said.

Champaign County Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber said because of the aggravated criminal sexual assault conviction, state law requires the two sentences be served consecutively.

Alexander-Smith will receive credit for 362 days already served in custody.

A charge of armed robbery (for the alleged theft of a debit card) and a second charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Prior to the sentencing, Alexander-Smith spoke in court to the victim and to his family.

"I made some bad decisions in life," he said. "I was hanging around people I shouldn't have been hanging around. I am truly sorry for the situation we are going through."

The charges stemmed from Alexander-Smith's attack on a 26-year-old pregnant woman in her apartment in the 2500 block of West Springfield Avenue on Aug. 25, 2011. He lived in a nearby apartment in the same complex at the time of the incident.

The woman testified that about 1:30 a.m., he broke through a sliding-glass door on her second-floor balcony, pursued her into her bedroom while armed with a knife, robbed her of a debit card, then raped her repeatedly.

The woman received a swollen cheek and split lip from being hit with a fist and cuts to her hand and legs from trying to get the knife from him. She said she recognized him from living nearby but didn't let on to him that she realized who he was.

Difanis had declared a mistrial in the case on May 17 after a jury of eight women and four men were unable to reach unanimous verdicts.

Alexander-Smith then pleaded guilty to the two felony counts in June.

The jurors in this spring's trial saw photos depicting the broken door, the woman's injuries and the bent butcher knife, which was left on her bed after the attack.

They also heard that semen taken from the woman contained Alexander-Smith's DNA and saw surveillance video of him at a nearby ATM within minutes of the attack trying unsuccessfully to use a bank card.

While Difanis noted that Alexander-Smith had no prior criminal conviction, he also noted that Alexander-Smith had lied about the bank card, saying it had belonged to his girlfriend when video showed the time when the card was used and ATM records showed that the card belonged to the victim.

"He lied through his teeth," Difanis said.

Weber argued for the maximum sentence, 30 years for home invasion and 40 years for aggravated criminal sexual assault.

"Mr. Alexander-Smith is absolutely a danger to society," Weber said. "He is someone who is extremely dangerous and lacks remorse."

Defense attorney George Vargas said Alexander-Smith is still young and deserved a shorter sentence.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

rsp wrote on August 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I would be interested to see an honest, anonymous interview with the jury he had to see what made it difficult for them to reach a verdict, as well as some of the other cases we have seen end in mistrials or not guilty verdicts lately. There seems to be an unusual trend going on. 

serf wrote on August 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Here's my absolutely biased opinion on why acquittals happen.

 

50% - stupid people.  They watch too many crime dramas on TV and don't have a brain in their head.  

30% - too smart for their own good.  A lot of professor types in this town.  They try to out-think everything and common sense goes right out the window.

20% - Prosecutor didn't do a good job proving up the case.  Reasonable doubt (what most of the rest of us would consider reasonable, anyway) exists.

 

Just remember though that acquittals are less prevalent than you would think.  We all just make a big fuss about the OJ Simpson's and Casey Anthony's around the country.  The system is biased toward letting guilty folks walk over convicting innocent folks (as it should be).  That's not to say that innocent people don't get wrongly convicted, but a hell of a lot more guilty people walk free than the other way around.