Cedar City, UT (ABC 4) – A Cedar City man has been convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl 18 years ago. New and advanced DNA testing led to the conviction.

Shawn Michael Smith, 42, was found guilty of the 2003 crime on Thursday, December 9.

Court records say the crime occurred on or around June 25, 2003, when Smith, 23-year-old at the time, forced the victim to engage in sexual activity. It says Smith gave the victim a ride to the residence of Vicki Engle, where they both had been staying. Smith was married to one of Engle’s daughter, while the victim was a friend of one of her daughters.

On June 26, 2003, the victim was taken to the emergency room of Valley View Medical Center. A sexual assault examination was completed which included a swabbing from her cervix for future DNA testing.

Police spoke with victim in which she said, once alone in the house Smith threatened her with a knife and forcibly raped her. After the criminal act, she says Smith forced her to wash out her vagina with soapy water in hopes it would eliminate any bodily fluids of his.

Law enforcement officers later interviewed Smith. He was in possession of a knife at that time but denied all allegations made by the victim.

Officers obtained a blood sample from Smith and also swabbings and samples from both he and the victim. The samples were then sent to the State of Utah Crime Laboratory for testing. The lab found a small amount of seminal fluid during a microscopic examination for spermatozoa on a cervical swabbing. However, the lab was unable to analyze the small amount of seminal fluid further to compare to the blood sample from Smith.

Years later, the sensitivity of DNA testing and available technology greatly improved. The State of Utah obtained funds allowing for the re-testing of previously tested samples in which a DNA profile was not obtained. As mentioned above, original testing for this case confirmed the presence of seminal fluid. However, due to testing limitations at the time, a DNA profile was not obtained.

In 2018, the State Crime Lab sent only the cervical swabbing and a sample of DNA from the victim to Bode Cellmark Forensics. A DNA analyst with Bode obtained a male DNA profile from the cervical swab. This DNA profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and was searched against the Utah and National databases, finding a match with Smith. The State Crime Lab then compared the DNA profile found on the cervical swabbing to the sample previously obtained from Smith during the initial investigation of this case. Smith’s sample was consistent with the DNA profile on the cervical swabbing.

Detective Jake Hoyt of the Cedar City Police Department, in a October 2020 police report said that based upon the foregoing information, there was probable cause to believe that the offenses of Rape of a Child, a First-Degree Felony; Sodomy Upon a Child, a First-Degree Felony; Obstructing Justice, a Second-Degree Felony; and Aggravated Assault, a Third-Degree Felon were committed by Smith.

No date for sentencing was set.