California man goes on trial for rape

Adam M. Smith, 29, is accused of sexual assault and making death threats to a Boston woman he met in an Edgartown bar.

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Attorney J. Drew Segadelli, left, cross examines nurse Karen Dumont with judge Gary Nickerson, right, presiding. —Stacey Rupolo

Two years after being arraigned on three counts of rape, threatening to commit a crime (murder), and intimidation of a witness, Adam M. Smith of Berkeley, Calif., went on trial in Dukes County Superior Court this week.

Mr. Smith, who was visiting the Vineyard for a bachelor party in September, 2015, is accused of raping and making a death threat to a 32-year-old woman in the bedroom of a rented house in the Katama section of Edgartown.

According to the police report, officers arrived at the house on Mercier Way at about 1:45 am on Sept. 5 to find the woman “crying hysterically.” She told  police she had been raped and that Mr. Smith threatened to kill her with a gun.

Judge Gary A. Nickerson is presiding over the trial, which began on Tuesday afternoon after jury selection was completed.

Before the first full day of testimony on Wednesday, one of the three counts of rape against Mr. Smith was dropped after a successful motion to suppress evidence by defense attorney J. Drew Segadelli, ADA Michael Patterson told The Times.

The jury of nine men and four women will now decide on two counts of rape and one count of attempting to intimidate a witness.

The woman spent most of the morning on the stand. Details of the evening of the alleged attack, in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 2015, were parsed by both attorneys.

There were numerous sidebar discussions among Judge Nickerson and the attorneys.

Mr. Smith, 6’2”, slightly balding, dressed in a suit, sat impassively the entire morning, his hands folded on the table. His parents, brother, and sister were in the gallery.

Under examination by Mr. Patterson, the woman recounted how she and two friends left Boston on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, ended up dancing at a crowded Seafood Shanty in Edgartown late that night, and eventually went back to the large rental house where men attending the bachelor party, including Mr. Smith, were staying.

The woman’s account of the evening had significant gaps, which, at one point, she attributed to “post traumatic stress” from the alleged assault. She admitted to drinking that evening, dancing with Mr. Smith on a crowded dance floor, to going back to the house with her two girlfriends, and to going to an upstairs bedroom with Mr. Smith voluntarily. She said they sat on the bed and kissed, however, she said when Mr. Smith tried to initiate oral sex, she pushed him away, and said “Stop” and “No” repeatedly. She said Mr. Smith also pinned her hands above her head, on the bed.

“I was saying no, I started crying,” she said in a quavering voice. “I told him he was hurting me.” The woman said when she attempted to leave, she went the wrong way, and was trapped in the bathroom. She said she could hear Mr. Smith laughing and that he said he would kill her if she told anyone about the encounter. She said she was “terrified” and left the party with her two girlfriends, then went to the field across the street. When one friend suggested calling a cab, she insisted she call the police.

The woman described her treatment at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by emergency room nurse Karen Dumont as “rash, abrupt and not sympathetic.”

On cross examination by Mr. Segadelli, the woman admitted to drinking wine, beer and mixed drinks and smoking marijuana that night at the party house, shortly before the alleged attack. She also admitted to taking Adderall that morning, which she said was prescribed for her ADHD and was only taken on work days.

Mr. Segadelli told the jury that the blood taken from the woman by Edgartown EMT’s who responded to the call, was .19, more than twice the legal limit.

The woman said she didn’t recall kissing Mr. Smith on the dance floor at the Seafood Shanty.

She also said she had no memory of the cab ride from the Seafood Shanty to the house. Under further questioning from Mr. Segadelli, she admitted to throwing up after leaving the party and before police arrived.

Christopher Catalano, of Hopkinton, was an attendee of the bachelor party and present that night. He said he had never met Mr. Smith before the party. He described the woman and Mr. Smith kissing on the dance floor and kissing vigorously on the cab ride to the house, and that she was clearly drunk. He said he saw them go upstairs holding hands.

In the police report and in her interview with nurse Dumont, the woman said she believed Mr. Smith had ejaculated. She also told Ms. Dumont that Mr. Smith “made her go upstairs” with him. Ms. Dumont testified that the woman was “disheveled and upset” but that her speech was clear and her balance was intact.

Alysse Coronado, quality control supervisor for the DNA unit at Massachusetts State Police lab said DNA tests showed markers from Mr. Smith’s saliva on the woman’s genitals, but not from his semen. The test is 99.9 percent accurate, she said.

Hannah Knowles, forensic scientist with Mass State Police, said lab tests showed no measurable amounts of Adderall in the woman’s blood.

The final testimony of the day came from Bethany Herrema, one of the woman’s friends who was with her that night.

On Sept. 25, Ms. Herrema amended a statement she made a month after the alleged attack to Edgartown Police, and stated that she had told Mr. Smith to be safe and to use a condom, and that she had one if he needed it. “I assumed something sexual was going to happen,” she told the court, adding that the offer of a condom didn’t seem pertinent when she made out her first statement in 2015.

Mr. Herrema became rattled as questioning went on, in particular by Mr. Segadelli’s forceful objections to Mr. Patterson’s questioning.

After she broke down on the stand, Judge Nickerson put an end to the proceedings until 9 a.m. Thursday.

 

Prior offenses

On the night of the alleged assault, the Martha’s Vineyard Tactical Response Team was called on to assist Edgartown Police in the arrest of Mr. Smith after a background check revealed a past incident where he made a threatening Facebook post to kill police officers by ‘blowing their brains out,’” police said.

Mr. Smith waived his Miranda rights and was extremely cooperative with the police, according to the report, which was read aloud in court at his arraignment in 2015.

Mr. Smith was initially held at Dukes County House of Correction on $100,000 bail, set by Judge J. Thomas Kirkman.

At the arraignment, Mr. Segadelli asked bail be set at $10,000.

Cape and Islands assistant district attorney Amanda Chaves asked Judge Kirkman to keep bail at $100,000, stating Mr. Smith had a string of alcohol-related offenses, obstruction charges for failing to appear in court, no ties to Massachusetts or Martha’s Vineyard, and a history of not showing up at court.

Mr. Segadelli countered that his client’s alcohol offenses were drinking-in-public offenses, not OUIs. “This man’s never seen the inside of a jail before,” he said.

Following his arraignment and a plea of not guilty, Judge Kirkman set bail at $25,000.

Mr. Smith was ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Mr. Smith posted bail, and left the courthouse later that day.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I am appalled that the MV Times has published an article which puts the victim, rather than the alleged rapist, on trial. A case of BLAME THE VICTIM!

  2. This article is appalling. If anyone was wondering about the reasons women don’t come forward the times just let them know. I wish I had learned more about the rapist than the victim.

    • As the story makes clear, this was the opening of testimony and is a reflection of how the woman was questioned during testimony. There is a followup today.

    • Except now we know he’s not a rapist.
      Be careful of a rush to judgement.as the plaintiff had a very weak case
      Oops.

  3. What is appalling is the rush to judgment by the uninformed and uninvolved (in the trial), the purpose of which is to determine who is the victim. Even here on Snowflake Island there exists the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. I think it was the Civics teacher who taught me that.

  4. The first two comments are a joke. I mean you two expect them to misreport what is happening during the proceedings? Cmon.

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