Man claims he was convicted of brutal sex assault, robbery because of his race

Tyrone Smith Jr
Tyrone Smith Jr
Thalia Murphy, deputy prosecutor
Thalia Murphy, deputy prosecutor
Debra Loy, deputy public defender
Debra Loy, deputy public defender

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday for the brutal kidnapping, sex assault and robbery of a woman in Wahiawa last year says authorities got the wrong man. Tyrone Smith, Jr. continued to maintain his innocence, saying he was convicted because of his race.

Prosecutors asked a judge to impose consecutive prison terms totaling 50 years, calling the 31-year-old a sexual predator and a danger to all women in the community. They nearly got their wish.

"I am sorry that this woman got hurt, but it wasn't from my hand," Smith said.

But prosecutors say Smith bragged to his house mates about the adrenaline rush he got when he carried out the vicious attack.

A 25-year-old woman says she was near Wahiawa Shopping Center walking home from work, when her assailant grabbed her from behind.

"He puts his hand over her mouth, around her ribs and tackles her down to the ground," Thalia Murphy, deputy prosecutor, said. "He slams her head against the ground several times to beat her into compliance. She was bloody after the attack."

Prosecutors say Smith also stole her jewelry, her money and a credit card.

"She could not deal with being here today," Murphy said. "She's frightened by what happened. She still has nightmares."

But the defense says the victim originally couldn't identify her attacker, and that the evidence presented to jurors was all circumstantial.

"If she was here today, I would tell her that it wasn't from me," Smith said. "She could not identify me. I guess what they say is true, that all black men look alike. I don't think it's fair."

Prosecutors say Smith committed the crime 10 days after arriving from California, where he has convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and sex with a minor.

His lawyer says he had a rough upbringing.

"He was sexually assaulted by two family members. He has family members in prison for drug offenses," Debra Loy, deputy public defender, said. "There's nothing to excuse his behavior, but his record cries for help."

The judge handed down a 40-year prison sentence, partially granting the prosecution's request for consecutive terms.

Smith will have to undergo sex offender treatment, which is something Loy says he didn't receive after his sex with a minor conviction in California.


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