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Man Pleads Guilty To Raping Teen Girls After Years Of Delays

 Jimmie Smith, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to raping two teens and two young women in 2009.
Jimmie Smith, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to raping two teens and two young women in 2009.
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COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — After postponing his trial for nearly seven years, Jimmie Smith on Tuesday pleaded guilty to kidnapping and brutally raping two girls and two young women in 2009.

Smith, now 40, was armed with a gun when he abducted the victims — ages 14, 14, 21 and 22 — in Englewood in May 2009 and brought them to an abandoned garage in suburban Harvey, court records show.

Prosecutors say Smith raped each victim, and choked and smothered at least two until they passed out. He then left them, bound by rope and tape, inside the garage. The victims eventually escaped and reported the crime at a nearby business.

Since his May 2009 arrest, Smith has been accused of stabbing his public defender in the neck with a shank; trying to hire hit men to kill a prosecutor and a judge assigned to his case; and having weapons inside Cook County Jail, where he's been held without bail pending trial since 2009.

The case has been delayed myriad times as Smith cycled through judges and public defenders before finally deciding to defend himself. The trial was slated to begin Tuesday in a suburban Skokie courtroom in front of Cook County Judge William Timothy O'Brien.

But moments before jury selection began Tuesday, Smith pleaded guilty, according to a spokeswoman with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Smith's next court date is April 18. He could be sentenced to anywhere from 54 to 120 years in prison, prosecutors said.

In December, Smith appeared before Judge O'Brien at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 S. California Ave., to request access to graphic nude medical photos of his victims.

Prosecutors tried to bar Smith from getting the photos, saying it was akin to providing him with child pornography that he could view in jail — and possibly distribute — while he awaits trial.

The images, which were taken by nurse examiners following the May 2009 attack, include close-up shots of Smith's victims breasts and genitalia. Smith said he wanted the photos to dispute the victims' injuries in his defense.

"I don't know if the photos coincide with what the state have," Smith said in December, adding that the pictures could help inform his legal strategy: "I don't know if this is something I'll go all the way fighting for, or give up on."

Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Papa insisted she wouldn't use the photos in trial and said handing over the shots to Smith would re-victimize the four women.

"They have a right to be treated with dignity and privacy," Papa said.

Judge O'Brien eventually agreed to hand over the photos — but Smith's access was limited to looking at the pictures on a secure computer in the presence of sheriff's deputies.

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