Convicted child rapist Russell John Smith cut his wrists Thursday night — half a day before his sentencing — with a piece of tin foil he got from a juice carton.
At his Friday sentencing in Prince William County Circuit Court, his lawyer Myron Berman pointed to the marks on Smith’s wrists as one example that his client is unstable and belongs in a mental hospital instead of prison.
But Judge Leroy F. Millette Jr. disagreed, sentencing Smith to 48 years.
Smith admitted this year to four counts of rape, which were purportedly committed as part of Satanic rituals in his Dale City basement. Four counts of aggravated sexual battery and one rape charge were dropped during his March trial.
“The bottom line, Mr. Smith, is you’re going to be well into your 70s when released,” Millette said.
Berman said Smith will probably kill himself in prison — or be killed by another inmate or a guard. Smith was a corrections officer at the Prince William-Manassas regional jail. That puts him in a uniquely dangerous position, Berman said. Guards will see him as a sell-out and inmates do not take kindly to child rapists, the defense attorney said.
But Millette said Smith’s concerns for his safety, however valid, did not supercede the need to punish him for his crimes, or keep him from committing others.
Millette said Smith’s suicide attempts and lack of hygiene are acts of manipulation, motivated by a desire to avoid serving hard time. Smith is making idle threats to fool the legal system into thinking he would be better off in a mental hospital than in prison, Millette said.
It was an assertion a Central State Mental Hospital doctor made in a pre-sentencing psychiatric evaluation. Smith was sent to the hospital in June to ensure he was competent for sentencing. He was then, as he is now, on 24-hour-a-day suicide watch.
The doctor at Central stated in his report that Smith did not show true signs of being suicidal, citing his seeking out medical treatment at the hospital as an example that he intended to live.
His appearance has changed since his capture last summer in Oregon, where he fled with the child, spurring a nation-wide manhunt involving the FBI, U.S. Marshals and other agencies. His unkempt look includes a gray and black beard whose grainy luster is evidence of the inmate’s refusal to shower.
“He won’t be able to survive in jail,” Berman said. “He’s very desperate.”
Staff writer Daniel Drew can be reached at (703) 878-8065.