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45-year-old Akron man found guilty of four cold case rapes thanks to matching DNA

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 17:55:49-04

AKRON, Ohio — A 45-year-old Akron man was found guilty of four cold case rapes stemming back as far as 2011, according to the Summit County Prosecutor's Office.

On Friday, a Summit County jury found Prentice Smith guilty of five counts of rape with sexually violent predator specifications and four counts of kidnapping in connection with cases from 2011, 2015 and 2018.

In January 2011, Smith forced a victim into his car by gunpoint, drove to an empty parking lot and raped the woman, authorities said.

Then in March 2015, Smith pulled up to a woman and offered her a ride before driving her to a vacant parking lot, parking close to a building so the woman could not get out of the vehicle, and beat and raped the woman. He committed a similar rape two months later.

On Christmas Day 2018, Smith committed a similar rape again, offering a woman a ride, driving to a vacant parking lot, parking close to a building to prevent her from getting out and raping the woman.

DNA was collected from all four crime scenes and the samples eventually matched Smith, who was arrested in June 2019.

Smith will be sentenced on Tuesday, May 25 at 11 a.m.

The trial is Summit County's first involving the recently created Sexual Assault Kit initiative Unit that reviews unsolved rape cases less than 20 years old where DNA was collected but no one was charged with a crime.

“Justice has finally come for the survivors of these horrible attacks. I am so proud of these women who came forward and testified against this serial rapist,” said Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. “I am also proud of the Assistant Prosecutors as well as our Sexual Assault Specialist for their work on this case. Finally, I want to thank the Akron Police Department for their collaboration in helping solve this crime.”

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