MANATEE -- A 23-year-old Manatee County man was sentenced to life in prison Friday afternoon after being found guilty of raping a 4-year-old.
Calvin Smith, 23, was found guilty of capital sexual battery by the jury of six after 30 minutes of deliberations Friday. He was found not guilty of a second count of capital sexual battery.
Emotions erupted as the victim's family walked out of the courtroom.
"Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!" one family member shouted as she stepped into the hallway.
Smith was arrested Oct. 22, 2013, just hours after the rape was first reported.
Among the evidence presented at trial were admissions made in a recorded interview with detectives and during jail calls to Smith's then-girlfriend. The victim also testified her account.
"This case illustrates the horrors of child sexual abuse which sadly affect many children in our community. The defendant's actions have forever altered the life of this 4-year-old child," Assistant State Attorney Julie Binkley said after the trial. "We are pleased that, based upon the jury's well-reasoned verdict, the victim and this community will be protected from the defendant's predatory behavior from this day forward. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family as they continue to heal."
On Friday, the jury was shown the video recorded interview with the victim hours after the rape occurred.
The child detailed for an investigator the hours leading up to the rape:
"We went to the store and he bought me some toys, we went to McDonald's and then to the park," the child said in the video.
The victim and the investigator then discussed what occurred.
"I was crying, crying," the child said. "It hurt."
Smith testified on his own behalf, claiming that the admissions he had made were made under duress. He claimed the detective's demeanor had been different prior to turning on the audio recorder and that all the deputies on scene had pointed their guns at him.
He said the detective came into his room and closed the door.
"He told me they had been to the wooded areas and you did whatever you did today and went to whatever place you went today, this is what you did. And I don't care what you say or how you say it but you better make it good," Smith said.
Smith began to sob as he continued to say his admissions were made out of fear.
"So I started blabbing," Smith said. "I knew since I hadn't done anything wrong that the evidence would point to that."
When questioned why he didn't deny the allegations during his jail calls to his then-girlfriend, Smith he was protecting her.
After Smith's testimony, both sides presented closing arguments.
"The defendant is telling you he lied," Binkley said. "Why would (the victim)'s testimony and the video you just saw a little while ago, why would it match up so good? It just miraculously matched up as he is making it up."
Binkley asked the jury to recall Smith's jailhouse telephone calls to his then-girlfriend, which were played in court Thursday afternoon.
"What's more amazing is that the defendant, he kept up the charade to his girlfriend, the woman he loved," she said. "Why would he do that?"
The defense attempted to create reasonable doubt for the jury with claims such as the child had a history of excessive wiping. He also said the child willingly got into the car with Smith on the day the rape was reported.
"If this had happened before, I would expect some reluctance for her to get in the car," he said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.