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European edition, Wednesday, April 25, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A court-martial began Tuesday for Pvt. Solomon E. Smith, who faces charges of attempted premeditated murder, rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

The charges surround an alleged incident that took place early Sept. 10, 2006, after a 22- year-old Thai woman drove Smith to her apartment near Homburg, about a 30-minute drive from Kaiserslautern. Smith allegedly choked the woman and forced her to submit to sexual acts before stabbing her twice.

Smith admits to the stabbings and has pleaded guilty to attempted unpremeditated murder, one specification of obstruction of justice and being absent without leave.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the woman, who had been on the witness stand for about two hours, was the only witness to have testified in the court-martial.

Smith and the woman met at Tiffany’s, a club in downtown Kaiserslautern, in the early morning hours of Sept. 10. Upon leaving the club around 5 a.m., the woman drove another servicemember and a female friend back to their respective dwellings before having Smith over to her apartment to have drinks and talk, she testified. Smith invited himself along for the ride because he had never seen Homburg, the woman said.

At the apartment, the woman used the restroom, exited and then saw Smith sleeping in her bed, according to her testimony. Believing that Smith was asleep, she entered the bathroom, changed into a sleeveless top and shorts and got into the far side of the bed away from Smith, she said. Smith put his arms around her and began kissing her neck, the woman said. She told him to stop, according to her testimony.

Then, Smith began massaging the woman’s back with lotion and progressed to kissing her. She told him to stop and said she would drive him home, according to testimony. The woman tried to get out of the bed, but Smith jumped on her and choked her, she said.

After being choked, she agreed to have sex with Smith, the woman testified.

“Just looking at his face, I knew if I didn’t do what he wanted, he would hurt me,” the woman said through a German translator.

After the sexual acts, the woman grabbed her cell phone, locked herself in the bathroom and tried to call the police, she testified. Smith began banging on the bathroom door, telling her to open it. After she opened the door, Smith stabbed her once in the left side and once in the chest, the woman testified.

Smith only agreed to take the woman to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center after he told her to go along with a story that someone else had stabbed her, she testified.

The court-martial is expected to resume Wednesday.

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