MANSFIELD — The case against a Madison Township man charged with rape and felonious assault was bound over to a Richland County Common Pleas Court grand jury after a preliminary hearing on Thursday afternoon.
Mansfield Municipal Court Magistrate John McCollister kept bond set at $1 million for William Odel Smith of McElroy Road.
The magistrate found probable cause to believe the 40-year-old Smith had committed the crimes and issued his decision after the 30-minute hearing.
Smith was out on probation from Richland County Common Pleas Court for a 2022 drug possession conviction and has now also been charged with a probation violation. The rape charge is a 1st-degree felony and felonious assault is a 2nd-degree felony.
Richland County Sheriff’s Officer Sgt. Jason Shoemaker was the only witness called by Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Nik Buckmeier.
Shoemaker, the department’s second-shift supervisor, outlined the case initially investigated by Deputy Bryce Burgess and Det. Wayne Liggett Jr.
Smith was arrested over the weekend after deputies were called to Avita Ontaro Hospital late Saturday afternoon for a woman who had been badly beaten and possibly raped.
The victim in the case was later transported to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and then to Grant Medical Center in Columbus due to the extent of her injuries.
While on the witness stand Thursday, Shoemaker was asked to describe the victim’s injuries, which he said included a fractured skull and spine.
“She was mumbling to the nurses at the time … could not speak clearly,” the sergeant said.
“There were ligature marks to the neck, which was hard for me to see because she was in a cervical collar. You can see through the holes on the side where she had appeared to have been strangled.
“(There was) severe bruising to the left side of the face, the frontal lobe area, both orbits, (her) eyes were completely shut and purple to where she could not open her eyes.
“(That’s) why we didn’t have her sign a medical release form at that time because she couldn’t see the form to sign the paperwork. There were bruising to the insides of her thighs. There were bruises to her arms, there were bruises to her legs from head to toe,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker said no weapons were found at Smith’s residence. But he did note the defendant had a badly injured right hand during an interview Saturday evening with detectives that continued to swell during the three- to four-hour interview.
“It appeared to be broken or severely damaged,” Shoemaker said.
During cross-examination by Mansfield defense attorney Darin Avery, Shoemaker said he had not asked county jail staff members about the hand injury. Smith’s hand was not in a cast or bandaged during his court appearance Thursday afternoon.
Avery asked Shoemaker if he was trained in identifying drug use. When the sergeant replied, “Yes,” the attorney asked if he saw any symptoms of drug use during his interview with Smith.
“I felt like he was on something. He had penpoint pupils. He had marks on his face, which when people use drugs, methamphetamines, and stuff like that. He had some of those on his face, as well,” Shoemaker said.
“There were red scratch marks on his face, where it looks like he’d scratched it. It is like open sores, which is known to be (associated) with drug use,” the sergeant said.
The defense attorney responded, “So your opinion is at the time of the interview at least he was under the influence of something?”
Shoemaker said, “I believe so.”
Richland Source is avoiding specific details from the case in an attempt to protect the identity of the victim.
Deputies executed a search warrant for Smith’s residence and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation processed the scene, according to RCSO Maj. Joe Masi.
Masi said Smith was arrested shortly after deputies started their investigation.