State To Retry Smart On North Chattanooga Rape Charge; Bond Conditions Lifted

Monday, September 18, 2017

The state plans to retry the case in which a 17-year-old was charged with raping a 69-year-old jogger in North Chattanooga three years ago.

Judge Don Poole on Aug. 25 had declared a mistrial after a jury said it was deadlocked.

Diontae Smartt, who was charged with aggravated rape, was already free on bond.

Judge Poole has now lifted bond conditions, including being electronically monitored. 

Smartt, who became a suspect when police got a tip about him from a member of the public, told police the jogger had initiated the sexual contact.

At first Smartt told police he did not know the jogger and said he had gone to school that morning.

During the course of the interview, he broke down and said he did sexually penetrate the jogger. 

Speaking between sobs, he said he was at a bus stop when the jogger came by. He said the man asked him to follow him and he did. He said when they came to a somewhat secluded spot that the man put his arm around him. He said at that point he hit the man in the face.

He could not explain why the man had so many bruises and lacerations on his body.

Smartt said he went on to school without changing clothes after the incident.

The male jogger took the witness stand at the start of the trial, saying he was attacked and sexually assaulted on West Mississippi Avenue near Normal Park School. It happened in the early morning of Sept. 29, 2014.

A triage nurse at Parkridge Hospital's emergency room said the man arrived at 7:27 a.m. and signed in as being a victim of sexual assault. She said the Rape Crisis Center was summoned.

She said she could readily see that he had an abrasion on his head.

A nurse from the Rape Crisis Center said the man had multiple lacerations and abrasions on both sides of his body as well as his head and back. She said some of his injuries were consistent with a forcible sexual assault.

Sgt. Joe Montijo, who is over the crime scene technicians, said he went to the hospital and found "an elderly male who clearly had been in some sort of altercation." He said there was a large laceration in the back of his head with some bleeding.

He said there were scraps of dirt and grass in his hair and his T-shirt "was incredibly soiled."

The witness said he went to 1131 West Mississippi Ave. - just down from where the jogger thought it happened - and was able to find the crime scene. He said there were two red stains on some concrete steps. He also found a white button. 

When Smartt was arrested two days later, Sgt. Montijo also checked him out, finding a number of bruises on him. One was on the bridge of his nose. He had a cut on his upper arm and abrasions on his knees and elbows.

At Smartt's home on Federal Street, he found a ripped white T-shirt that was stuffed behind a bed head board. He also found a pair of shorts that were missing the top button.

A pair of brass knuckles was found on Smartt, it was stated.

Smartt's mother, who was with him at the police station, said he had been injured a few weeks before when he was hit while riding his bicycle. She said he had a slight concussion and other injuries. 

Smartt opened up to detectives after his mother was asked to leave the room, and she did.




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