LIVINGSTON – An Amite man was sentenced to life in prison Monday in 21st Judicial District Court in connection with a 2015 kidnapping and rape.
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said Charles A. Smith, 30, was convicted of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated rape by a jury.
The 27-year-old victim testified at the trial that on Jan. 25, 2015, she and her 2-year-old daughter were getting into her car at the Dollar General Store on La. 16 in Denham Springs, when a man approached her with a handgun.
The man forced his way into her vehicle and left driving northbound on La. 16 into St. Helena Parish, Perrilloux said.
The man drove to an unknown location where he made the woman get out of the vehicle and sexually assaulted her while armed with the handgun and the child watched from the vehicle, the district attorney said.
He then made her get back into the vehicle and began driving back toward St. Helena Parish, when he got into a high-speed chase with deputies.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff Office was notified of the pursuit and its patrol deputies responded.
The vehicle pulled onto a grassy area along La. 16 about one mile north of the Livingston Parish line. The driver fled on foot into a wooded area.
A joint investigation by the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office and Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office led to Smith’s arrest, Perrilloux said.
The victim identified Smith as her attacker from a six-person photo lineup the next day. Four days later, the Dollar General clerk who saw the man in front of the store identified him as Smith, the district attorney said.
Through the joint investigation, on Feb. 5, 2015, the crime scene was identified as Harris AME Zion Church on Hano Road in Independence.
Investigators found physical evidence the suspect had thrown on the ground after the sexual assault.
Forensic DNA evidence tests conducted by the State Police Crime Lab proved Smith was the male that committed the crime.
A small black handgun also was recovered from the victim’s vehicle, which matched the description of the weapon used by the suspect.