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DNA Links South Side Man to 3 Cold-Case Rapes, 1 Murder

By  Kelly Bauer and Erica Demarest | April 7, 2017 7:53am | Updated on April 14, 2017 10:29am

 Antonio Smith, 35, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and sexual assault.
Antonio Smith, 35, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and sexual assault.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — DNA evidence has linked a South Side man to three violent rapes, including a case where the victim later died of injuries sustained in the attack.

Antonio Smith, 35, appeared in bond court Friday on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon.

"You are an extreme danger to the community," Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. said in court. "Bond will be denied."

The first attack happened Feb. 8, 2002, as a 33-year-old woman walked in the 4600 block of South Prairie Avenue, Assistant State's Attorney Mary Anna Planey said.

Smith is accused of approaching the woman and having a brief conversation before punching her multiple times in a nearby vacant lot. Smith then raped the woman, knocked her unconscious with a brick and stole her coat, keys and money, prosecutors said.

A rape kit was collected at Provident Hospital.

On Jan. 11, 2007, police found a 46-year-old woman unconscious and naked from the waist down near a carport in the 4200 block of South Prairie Avenue, Planey said.

The victim had been raped and beaten so badly that she had loose teeth, multiple lacerations to her head and bruises on her face, prosecutors said. She remained unconscious for two months and later died of her injuries on Oct. 27, 2008.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, the victim died of anoxic encephalopathy, a condition in which brain tissue is so deprived of oxygen that a victim suffers a "global loss of brain function." The case was ruled a homicide; the cause of death was blunt-force trauma.

A rape kit was also collected in this case.

On Aug. 14, 2010, Smith approached a 35-year-old woman walking near 80th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, and asked if she wanted to get a drink, prosecutors said. The woman agreed and got into Smith's car.

Smith then pulled into a parking lot, where he proceeded to repeatedly punch the victim before raping her, Planey said. The woman was found unconscious and partially naked about 5:30 a.m. in the 1000 block of East 80th Street. Her underwear had been pulled down to her thighs, prosecutors said.

A rape kit was collected at Jackson Park Hospital, where the victim was treated for multiple contusions, lacerations and soft-tissue damage, Planey said.

Roughly two years later, on May 22, 2012, Smith was convicted of retail theft and sentenced to 12 months probation, according to prosecutors. Following that felony conviction, Smith's DNA was collected and entered into a national database.

DNA collected from the 2002, 2007 and 2010 rapes soon proved to be a match to Smith, prosecutors said.

It is unclear why prosecutors then waited five years to file charges.

Smith, of the 7000 block of South Indiana Avenue, has two living children, ages 14 and 15, and works odd jobs to make money, his public defender said Friday.

Smith is the father of Antonio Smith Jr., who was 9 years old when he was gunned down in 2014. The boy was in a South Side yard when four men seeking to shoot rival gang members opened fire, prosecutors previously said.

RELATED: Men Who Killed Antonio Smith, 9, Were Hunting Rival Gang Members

Four men were charged with first-degree murder in 2014. Their cases are still pending before Judge Evelyn B. Clay. The men will next appear in court separately on April 18, April 20, April 25 and May 2.