Trial continues Thursday for Centralia man classified as a sexual predator

Trial continues Thursday for Centralia man classified as a sexual predator

SALEM, IL — The trial of a 27-year-old Centralia man accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl is scheduled to resume Thursday morning after the defense rested its case Wednesday afternoon. Jurors in the Marion County case against Thomas Smith heard zoom testimony Tuesday from the alleged victim.

The court had earlier found the child a competent witness before attorneys gave their opening statements in the case. She then testified via Zoom video conference. Smith is accused of two Class X felony charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a 6-year-old child and Class 2 felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under the age of 13. Following testimony from additional witnesses for the prosecution Tuesday, the trial was recessed until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The prosecution continued with their case Wednesday presenting not only evidence to the jury but also questioning additional witnesses who included the alleged victim’s father. The state then rested its case before Judge Mark Stedelin denied a defense motion for a directed verdict. Smith elected to not testify on his own behalf and the defense rested its case. The jury was sent home around 2 p.m. with instructions to return Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Closing arguments should be expected Thursday with the case ultimately being handed to the jury for deliberation.

Smith was a registered sexual predator at the time of his arrest in this case. The initial crime and conviction that landed Smith on the Registry occurred when he was 21 in Clinton County and his victim was 14. He has since been convicted in 2015 of possessing child pornography on his computer and violating the sex offender registration then in 2017, he was convicted of child sex offender loitering and child sex offender communicating on the internet – all in Clinton County. He was then convicted in 2020 in Clinton County of violating the sex offender registration.