Support our mission

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Pvt. Solomon E. Smith choked, raped, sodomized and tried to kill a 22-year-old Thai woman he met at a downtown Kaiserslautern club last September.

For his crimes, Smith, of the 21st Theater Support Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years’ confinement, given a dishonorable discharge, reduced to the lowest pay grade and ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances.

He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

A five-member, all-male panel of enlisted soldiers and officers deliberated for 1½ hours to find Smith guilty of attempted premeditated murder, rape, forcible oral sodomy, assault with intent to commit anal sodomy, assault consummated by battery and obstructing justice. Prior to his court-martial, Smith pleaded guilty to attempted unpremeditated murder, obstructing justice and being absent without leave.

The sexual assault and attempted murder occurred sometime after 5 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2006, at the victim’s apartment near Homburg after she invited Smith in to have drinks and talk. The two had met hours earlier at Tiffany’s, a Kaiserslautern club.

According to testimony, the pair entered the woman’s apartment. The woman went to the bathroom and then saw Smith in her bed, apparently asleep. She entered the bed, and Smith made advances toward her. She said no, but then allowed him to massage her back, even telling Smith where she kept lotion he could use.

Smith began kissing her. At some point, the woman told Smith she would take him home and tried to get out of bed. Smith jumped on her and began choking the woman with his forearms. Out of fear, she agreed to have sex with Smith, the victim testified.

Smith then raped the woman. After the encounter, the woman picked up her cell phone, locked herself in her bathroom and tried to call police. Smith grabbed a knife from her kitchen and banged on the bathroom door, telling her to open it, she testified.

She opened the door. Only after the two talked for a while did he stab her in the side. They talked some more, and Smith stabbed her in the chest. She testified that Smith only agreed to take her to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center after the woman consented to go along with a story that someone else stabbed her.

In her closing argument, Capt. Evah Pottmeyer, a defense attorney for Smith, argued that the victim’s memory of the event was inaccurate and the sexual acts were consensual. An expert in forensic pathology testified for the defense that he could not say with medical certainty that the woman was choked based on photos taken after the event.

“If there’s no strangulation, the sex charges just aren’t there,” Pottmeyer said. “There’s no force.”

The woman only performed the sexual acts because she feared Smith would harm her again, said Capt. Kevin McCarthy, lead prosecutor. Smith realized he had done wrong based on his actions after the sexual assault, McCarthy argued in his closing statement.

“Why did [Smith] try to kill her?” McCarthy said. “It’s because of his consciousness of guilt.”


around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up