SARASOTA — Home invasion and rape suspect Delmer Smith refused this morning to appear in court for a hearing on a battery charge stemming from a Venice bar fight that authorities say led to his capture.
Smith, 38, had been due in court this morning for a routine pre-trial hearing on the aggravated battery charge stemming from the bar fight, but he refused to enter the courtroom for unknown reasons.
Venice police arrested Smith after the Aug. 14 bar fight in which the victim said Smith attacked him. The victim had requested Smith stop video recording his girlfriend dancing on the bar’s dance floor.
Police reports say Smith went on to beat the man so badly he broke bones in the victim’s face. A judge scheduled a new hearing on the case for Dec. 2.
Law enforcement touted the arrest of Smith in the bar fight as setting off the investigation that led to the capture of the man authorities say terrified the community for months as he attacked and raped women in their homes.
Federal authorities said the bar fight violated Smith’s probation for a 1995 bank robbery conviction, for which he was released in September 2008. He has already received two years prison for the probation violation.
The federal warrant based on the bar fight led Venice police and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies to a storage bin used by Smith that held property stolen during four violent attacks on women in their homes, including the rape of two of the women.
Smith is also a suspect in an as many as seven more similar home invasion attacks in Sarasota and Manatee counties, including the beating death of a woman in her home.
He has also not been ruled out as a suspect in the killing of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home, according to Manatee sheriff’s officials.
Sarasota sheriff’s detectives had recovered DNA from four of the home invasion crime scenes during the four months the attacks occurred, but did not initially get a match in federal databases.
The FBI later acknowledged the agency had Smith’s DNA throughout the series of attacks, collected while he was in prison, but due to a backlog it had not been entered into the system.
Once Smith’s DNA sample from prison was entered into federal databases, it matched the DNA collected from the home invasion crime scenes, according to Sarasota sheriff’s officials.
Smith has been charged with several counts of armed home invasion, false imprisonment and sexual battery stemming from the attacks. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges stemming from the home invasions on Dec. 4.