Friday, April 22, 2011

Sterling Heights man who kidnapped, raped mother of his children gets 26 3/4 to 75 years

A Sterling Heights, MI man was sentenced to 26 3/4 to 75 years in prison in a suburban Detroit courtroom Friday, April 15, 2011 for raping and kidnapping his "girlfriend," the mother of his two children, on New Years Day 2010.  Brandon Jay Smith kidnapped the woman be forcing her into his grandmother's car when she arrived to work at a Green Oak Township restaurant.

The woman testified at a June preliminary examination that Smith was waiting for her when she arrived to work. She said he told her not to resist and not to scream for help. She resisted and she screamed, and Smith grew angrier, the woman said. The woman sat on the ground in an effort to be dead weight, but her 5-foot, 96-pound frame was no match for Smith, at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds.

She said Smith fled on U.S. 23, where he cut off his electronic tether, he had to wear one as a condition of his sentencing less than a month earlier on charges of aggravated domestic violence against the same woman, and threw it out the window. He put zip ties on her wrists and took the batteries out of both of their cell phones.

Smith told the woman that he was taking her somewhere no one would find her and during that trip north, he told her that he was going to asphyxiate himself and she was going to watch. He also told her that he was going to kill her and if police stopped them, he threatened to kill her in front of them.

The woman said Smith raped her while en route to his family’s camper trailer in Antrim County and again once they reached the site. She was rescued by Antrim County sheriff’s deputies in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2010.

Defense attorney Mark Gatesman said that he was proud of his client's taking responsibility. He also said that a factor in his client's favor was that instead of killing his victim should police raid the trailer, he simply surrendered to police.

This view contrasts with some of the statements Smith made to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.  "My intent was never to hurt her, but she got hurt. We were supposed to go up to the camper, up north. She kept asking why we were going there. I told her that's where I'm going to commit suicide. ... The reason she was with me was she could watch. Never got around to doing it, though. The cops came before I had a chance to."

However, according to presiding Judge Livingston County Circuit Judge Michael P. Hatty, it was Smith's mother who took on her reasonably to the mother of her grandkids to lead them to the camper. Judge Hatty, citing the "horrendous" nature of the case, said "This case came up very short of being a murder case, if the police didn't get there quick enough." According to Prosecutor David Moses, the victim was 45 minutes from death. "She thought she was going to die. She thought she would not see her family again, would not see her children," Moses said about the victim.

Beside the kidnapping and 1st degree criminal sexual conduct counts, Smith was also sentenced for assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, aggravated domestic violence and assault with a dangerous weapon for threatening and cutting the woman with a knife as well as interfering with electronic communications.

The victim's father, who attended the sentencing, said that he thanked the officials who helped find his daughter. "We owe a lot to the police agencies that were involved in this. Those guys did a great job."

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