He’s on death row for killing one woman. Now, DNA is linking him to another, cops say

Detectives say DNA evidence links convicted murderer Delmer Smith to the slaying of a Sarasota woman in 2009.
Detectives say DNA evidence links convicted murderer Delmer Smith to the slaying of a Sarasota woman in 2009.

Detectives say DNA evidence links convicted murderer Delmer Smith to the slaying of a Sarasota woman in 2009.

Smith, who is already on death row for the Aug. 3, 2009, murder of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home, is now facing new charges of murder and sexual battery in the death of a Sarasota woman four months before Briles was killed, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday afternoon.

The two attacks were among at least a dozen authorities say Smith committed over several months in 2009 in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

On or about April 6, 2009, detectives say Smith went into the Sarasota woman’s home, raped and killed her. An autopsy revealed the victim had been “bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat” found next to her body, according to the sheriff’s office.

The victim’s body was later found by friends when she failed to show up for work.

In November 2017, detectives received a report that identified Smith’s DNA on the clothes the victim was wearing when she was found, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The investigation revealed the defendant was a stranger to the victim,” a detective wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit. “There is no reasonable explanation as to why the defendant would have any lawful physical contact with the victim other than to have been in the victim’s home and murdered her.”

Smith will be brought back to Sarasota County to face the new charges against him.

The sheriff’s office could not comment on why it took DNA Labs International so long to get its report back to them, according to spokeswoman Kaitlyn R. Perez.

Once receiving the report, however, the sheriff’s office consulted with the State Attorney’s Office and collected another DNA sample from Smith before filing charges against him, according to Perez. Since Smith is currently in prison, there was no need to rush, she said, and they wanted to be as thorough as possible.

While Smith was a suspect in many of the attacks that terrorized Manatee and Sarasota counties in 2009, he has only been convicted of the Briles murder and one other attack.

In December 2011, a jury found Smith guilty of armed home invasion robbery and armed kidnapping for the March 14, 2009, attack on an elderly woman inside her home in the 5200 block of Carmilfra Way in Sarasota. Smith had broken into the home, threatened to kill her and then dragged her around the home demanding to know where valuables were stored, the victim testified at trial.

Smith later tied the victim’s hands, feet and her neck with electrical cords. She felt so terrorized, that doctors later confirmed she had actually suffered a heart attack.

Less than a month after a jury found him guilty, Smith was sentenced to life in prison for the attack.

In most of the attacks, investigators say Smith generally preyed on women who were home alone. He would tie them up, severely beat them and sexually assault them.

In Sarasota County, the sheriff’s office says Smith has been linked to three other home invasions: Feb. 22, 2009, in the 3500 block of Osage Terrace; March 7, 2009, in the 1900 block of Bougainvillea Street; and May 26, 2009, on Whispering Sands Drive. Smith had been linked to the string of home invasions through DNA, according to the sheriff’s office.

Smith was sentenced to death in 2013 for Briles’ murder based on a unanimous recommendation by the same jury that found him guilty in 2012.