In 2000, Timothy Smith’s 17-year-old daughter accused him of raping and sodomizing her five to ten years earlier. At Smith’s trial in Covington, Kentucky, the prosecution presented the daughter’s testimony and an expert on repressed memories to explain why the girl was only now remembering the abuse. No physical evidence was presented, and Smith’s attorney did not challenge the expert’s testimony on repressed memory. In 2001, a jury convicted Smith of rape and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In 2005, Smith’s daughter was killed after she attacked a pregnant woman with a knife and the woman fought back in self-defense. Smith’s daughter had told family and friends she was nine months pregnant at the time, but her autopsy revealed that she was lying. This evidence of her mental instability led to renewed interest in Smith’s case. Smith’s attorneys, working with the Kentucky Innocence Project, discovered that the prosecution’s expert witness had lied about her credentials, and they argued that the defense attorney’s representation of Smith was inadequate because he failed to challenge the expert’s testimony or credentials, didn’t adequately question the daughter when she testified, and failed to call a witness who could have contradicted the daughter’s story about when she recovered the memories. In March 2006, a Kenton County Circuit Court judge overturned Smith’s conviction based on his defense counsel’s ineffective representation. Smith was released in May 2006 when the prosecution decided not to retry him.
- Stephanie Denzel