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It’s been more than a year since Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted in the Philippines of raping a Filipino woman.

His appeals case could drag on for years, his attorney, Jose Justiniano, said Wednesday.

The case remains in the hands of the Court of Appeals, which is reviewing Smith’s challenge of his conviction and 40-year prison sentence.

There’s no way to know when a decision might be rendered, Justiniano said.

“Maybe six months from now, [that’s] just a guess,” he said.

Smith, an Okinawa-based Marine from St. Louis, was convicted Dec. 4, 2006, of raping a woman in a van as fellow Marines allegedly cheered him on.

At the time, he was on liberty after participating in military exercises north of Manila. He claimed the sex was consensual.

Smith has been detained at the U.S. Embassy in Manila since late December 2006.

Justiniano said Smith lives in “a room” with a U.S. Marine on guard there at all times. He exercises, reads books and gets a few minutes outdoors intermittently “to get some sunshine,” Justiniano said.

“He seems to be OK,” his lawyer said. “He’s anxious when his appeal will be decided.”

If the appeals court denies Smith’s challenge, Smith will appeal to the Philippine Supreme Court, and resolution could take years, Justiniano said.

Smith will remain at the embassy — as dictated by the U.S.-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement — until his appeals are exhausted, Justiniano said, despite recent protests outside the embassy demanding his return to Philippine custody.

As for Justiniano, “I am keeping my fingers crossed,” he said.

“The expectation of some persons in the embassy is quite high.”

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Manila could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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