Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Public safety

Convicted sex offender accused of using knife in Lealman sexual battery

ST. PETERSBURG — A 52-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested early Thursday after he raped a woman at knifepoint, deputies said.

Eric Jerome Smith of St. Petersburg was arrested just before 1:45 a.m. near Park Boulevard and U.S. 19 N, an hour after deputies found a 41-year-old woman partially nude and "visibly shaken" outside a church at 2825 58th Ave. N in Lealman.

Officials think that's where the attack occurred.

The victim's identity was not released given the nature of the crime. She and Smith did not know each other, said Pinellas sheriff's Sgt. David Disano.

During the sexual battery, deputies said, Smith threatened the woman with a knife and cut her left hand. She was hospitalized and released overnight, Disano said.

Smith is being held at the Pinellas County Jail without bond on charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

According to Florida's sex offender registry, Smith was convicted of two counts of rape in Illinois in 1988. He has recently been living in the 2500 block of 54th Avenue N.

His arrest came just hours after Clearwater police arrested Larry Wayne Coburn Jr., an ex-convict with a history of violent crime, in the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of two women at gunpoint.

Both incidents were random and the victims did not know their attackers, police said.

Court records from Cook County, Ill., show Smith was charged in 1998 with one count of sexual violence. He was convicted, but officials determined he was unlikely to re-offend. It was unclear Thursday if he served any prison time.

Smith has also been arrested several times in Illinois and Florida over the last 20 years for failure to report a change of address as a registered sex offender.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.

Comments
Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

NEW PORT RICHEY — The 23-year-old man wanted in connection with sexually assaulting a 71-year-old woman on Monday left behind the clue that deputies said led them right to him: A fingerprint on a Gatorade bottle.Deputies said that and other evidence ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday informally supported adding as many as 10 school resource officers in county schools, including one for every elementary school, in an effort to bolster security in the wake of the deadly school...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

PARKLAND — Students who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School began a 400-mile journey to Florida’s capital Tuesday to urge lawmakers to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week.Three buses carryi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Man charged with killing wife who disappeared at sea

Man charged with killing wife who disappeared at sea

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A man who claimed his wife disappeared at sea when their boat collided with an unknown object near the Bahamas was charged Tuesday with killing her and intentionally trying to sink the vessel to cover his tracks.Lewis Bennett...
Updated: 10 hours ago
She drove drunk with a child in the backseat, deputies say. She said she ‘just got out of rehab’

She drove drunk with a child in the backseat, deputies say. She said she ‘just got out of rehab’

A Miami woman is accused of driving intoxicated with a child in the back seat of her car — and she told a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy that she "just got out of rehab," according to arrest recordsStephanie Roque, 30, was traveling through Welli...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Investigators find insufficient evidence against former state fair executive director

Investigators find insufficient evidence against former state fair executive director

TAMPA — Charles Pesano may have used his position as executive director of the Florida State Fair to funnel business to his family’s company, get Tampa Bay Rays tickets and have a hot tub installed in his Valrico home, but there is no evidence he com...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, found safe after leaving Bradenton home

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, found safe after leaving Bradenton home

BRADENTON — Jalyssa Shannon, the sister of 13-year-old Riverview murder victim Janessa Shannon, was found safe Monday evening after leaving her mother’s Bradenton home Sunday, authorities said.Jalyssa was found about 7 p.m., according to the Manatee ...
Published: 02/20/18
Young child struck by vehicle in Tampa

Young child struck by vehicle in Tampa

TAMPA — A young child was injured after being struck by a vehicle Thursday morning, according to police.The crash involved a pedestrian and a vehicle near Myrtle Street and Serena Drive around 7:45 a.m., police said.The child sustained non-life threa...
Published: 02/20/18
Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds

Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds

More than 6 in 10 Americans fault Congress and President Donald Trump for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with most Americans continuing to say these incidents are more reflective of probl...
Published: 02/20/18
Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

His words and his pleas are similar to what we’ve heard from others in recent days.Kids deserve to feel safe when they walk into a classroom in Florida. More security is needed. More boots on the ground would be helpful. Mostly, more money must be de...
Published: 02/20/18