By Ray King
A Pine Bluff man convicted of two counts of rape argued unsuccessfully that he was the victim of PTSD, causing him to suffer amnesia and because of that, failed to remember a medical report that the older of the two victims was a virgin.
James E. Smith, 65, made the claims in his eighth attempt to have his conviction overturned since receiving two consecutive 20-year prison sentences from a Jefferson County jury in 2001. . The two victims were the daughters of his longtime girlfriend and were both under the age of 14.
He filed the appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court and in it, said one of the victims was seen at the emergency room in 1993 for back pain and was diagnosed with border line sickle cell anemia. During that time, a doctor allegedly noted that the victim was a “virgin.”
The rapes allegedly occurred in 1991 and Smith argued that because the victim was a virgin in 1993, he could not have raped her and had it not been for his amnesia, he would have remembered that and told his attorney during his 2001 trial, which would have changed the outcome of the trial.
He also contended that the other victim lied and testified merely to corroborate her sister’s allegations from 1991 and said he did not rape the other victim in 1993.
Writing for the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Karen Baker said that when a defendant claims insanity at the time of trial, the burden is on the person who claims a history of mental illness or defect to fully disclose specific facts as the basis for the claim.
Baker said in Smith’s appeal, he provided only his “self-serving” statement of his mental health at the time of trial and his claim that he suffered amnesia for about 20 years do not meet the legal criteria for a new trial.