Charlotte rapist sentenced to 82 years in prison

Derek Antonio Smith Jr.
Derek Antonio Smith Jr. Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office

A Charlotte man was sentenced to 82 years in prison Friday for raping a woman after hiding in a closet in her apartment until she got home.

After a week-long trial before Judge Jesse Caldwell, a Mecklenburg County jury found Derek Antonio Smith Jr., 26, guilty of multiple charges: first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, felony breaking or entering, common law robbery, first-degree kidnapping and felony flee to elude arrest with a vehicle.

On Sept. 10, 2014, the victim returned to her Charlotte apartment and was putting away some of her belongings when she was tackled by Smith, a stranger, according to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. The victim was 25 at the time and lived in an apartment in the 1600 block of North Wind Place, off Sharon Road West near South Boulevard.

Smith held a knife to the woman’s neck and a hand over her mouth, telling her not to scream, prosecutors said. Smith held the victim captive for hours as he sexually assaulted her.

The victim then begged Smith to leave, offering him some of her belongings. Smith took a cell phone, the woman’s debit and credit cards, a laptop and other items.

Before Smith took her laptop, the victim convinced him to let her back up some files on the computer and used the chance to email her parents, asking them to call 911, prosecutors said. The victim also used another cell phone that she’d hidden from Smith to text her parents for help.

Smith left in the victim’s car, which the woman helped police track through her cell phone’s GPS device. Smith refused to stop, so Charlotte-Mecklenburg police used a tire deflation device to stop the vehicle and arrest Smith.

“The victim’s quick thinking and her willingness to face her assailant by testifying at trial not only helped police quickly apprehend her attacker, but also ensured a conviction that will protect the entire community from this dangerous offender,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak