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Man found guilty of raping a teenager 18 years ago, due to a retest of the victim's rape kit

Shawn Michael Smith was found guilty of a 2003 rape on Thursday after the victim's rape kit was retested leading to sufficient DNA evidence.

Shawn Michael Smith was found guilty of a 2003 rape on Thursday after the victim's rape kit was retested leading to sufficient DNA evidence. (Iron County Attorney's Office)



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CEDAR CITY — Shawn Michael Smith was found guilty of a 2003 rape on Thursday after a two-day jury trial and a jury deliberation that was shorter than two hours.

"This has been a unique and important case for our office. The defendant had eluded justice for over 18 years after committing a horrific, degrading, and violent rape," Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson said in a press release.

Smith was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint in 2003, he was 10 years older than her at the time. Charging documents said Smith threatened to kill the victim if she reported what had happened.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which was passed by the Utah Legislature in 2017, allowed for the victim's rape kit to be tested again and they were able to identify Smith, Dotson said.

Smith was interviewed by police shortly after the crime, but there was not enough evidence from the Utah State Crime Lab to lead to charges. The sensitivity of crime lab technology has improved since 2003, and more recently a lab was able to confirm that Smith's DNA matched.

Dotson said that they were able to find multiple witnesses from 2003 that could testify at the trial, despite how much time had passed.

"The way the case came together after all these years is really quite remarkable," Dotson said. "My team and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of such a meaningful outcome, for a victim who has waited a very long time for justice."

Smith will be sentenced in the Fifth District Court on Feb. 2, 2022.

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