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Accused serial home invader set for trial

SARASOTA — A judge this morning scheduled a trial for accused serial home invasion suspect Delmer Smith III on charges stemming from four violent attacks during which four women were beaten and two raped in their homes.

Delmer Smith III, 38, refused to appear in Sarasota court on home invasion, sexual battery and false imprisonment charges, but his attorney waived his right to a speedy trial. Sarasota Circuit Judge Rochelle Curley set a trial for Nov. 8.

Smith is accused of beating and binding four women in several attacks between February and May of last year. Smith has also not been ruled out as a suspect in several similar home invasion attacks in Manatee, including the killing of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home, according to Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube.

The investigation and eventual capture of Smith led to controversy as Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office officials said Smith’s DNA found in the home of the four victims gave them enough to make an arrest.

But it was later revealed that the FBI had Smith’s DNA since last March, but had not entered it into federal databases due to a backlog of entered federal inmates’ DNA samples.

Prior to the attack, Smith had been in federal prison for 15 years for a bank robbery, and his DNA was taken prior to his release in September 2008. Sarasota detectives had his DNA as early as Feb. 22, but did not obtain a hit because Smith’s DNA taken in prison was not entered until local detectives made a special request to the FBI.

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