Police

Jury convicts Citrus Heights man of raping neighbor on her 79th birthday

Dustin Smith, Citrus Heights, sex assault
A police sketch of a sex assault suspect, later identified as Dustin Smith, who was arrested in connection with an Aug. 31 sexual assault. // Image courtesy, CHPD

Sentinel staff report–
In a fitting conclusion to a crime last August that police called vile, reprehensible and despicable, Citrus Heights resident Dustin Todd Smith was found guilty by a jury on Monday of breaking into his elderly neighbor’s home and raping her. The 31-year-old now faces 59 years to life in prison.

According to a news release issued by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday, Smith lived around the corner from the victim and admitted to watching her for at least 10 years. The victim, who turned 79 years old on the day of the attack, was a widow who lived alone near Cripple Creek and Van Maren Lane.

The DA’s office said Smith was convicted of forcible rape and oral copulation, during the commission of a burglary. He was also convicted of assault with the intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy and oral copulation.

At the time of the crime, which was reported around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2017,  police responded with a heavy presence and canvassed the neighborhood. Later that day, a suspect sketch was released that was soon credited with being remarkably accurate after Smith was arrested the next day.

Video surveillance and DNA evidence ultimately linked Smith to the assault, the DA’s office said.

In a statement to The Sentinel following the announcement of Smith’s conviction, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence said he was happy with the jury’s decision and pleased with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

“The heinous crimes perpetrated by the suspect against a helpless elderly victim were absolutely unconscionable,” said Lawrence. “I hope the defendant is sentenced to the maximum possible prison term and that he never commits crimes again.”

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6 by Judge Helena Gweon.