A man facing several child sex offense charges will spend at least the next six years behind bars after pleading guilty to nine felonies.
Eddie Smith, 54, entered the plea Monday afternoon in Haywood County Superior Court, where he pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent liberties with a child, stemming from incidents ranging from 2010 to 2015, as well as one count of second-degree forcible sex offense and second-degree forcible rape from November 2017. All counts have the same victim, who is now 18 years old.
The Mountaineer first reported on Smith’s charges in 2017 when The Waynesville Police Department put out the word they were looking for him. While it wasn’t stated then how he’d evaded law enforcement, it became more clear during Monday’s hearing when Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones provided a summary of the case.
Smith’s behavior first became known to law enforcement on Nov. 9, 2017, when Waynesville police officers were dispatched to a residence for a breaking and entering in progress. When they got there, they could hear a male and female voice behind the door. The victim’s mother greeted the officers, and when they went inside, they encountered the victim.
“She told them he was back there and he’s got a machete,” Jones told Superior Court Judge Brad Letts.
By the time officers commenced searching with a canine, Smith was nowhere to be found, and it wasn’t until over a month later that he was tracked down and arrested in Greenville County, South Carolina, after which he was quickly extradited.
“It’s somebody we wanted as a fugitive for several weeks,” Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed said following Smith’s December arrest. “We had put it out there and exhausted all leads.”
Jones said that when law enforcement caught up to Smith, he admitted to sexual contact with the minor girl.
“He did claim it was consensual, however she was 17 years of age, and she stated it was forcible sexual contact,” Jones said.
In March 2018, a Haywood County Grand Jury indicted Smith on several new charges dating back to when the victim was much younger. As part of the plea arrangement, several of those charges were dismissed. Ultimately, the state and Smith reached the deal because the victim and her mother thought it would be detrimental to have to recall the years of traumatic abuse she endured at Smith’s hands in front of a jury.
Smith’s sentence was somewhat complicated, but it ultimately means Smith will spend 83-169 months (6.9-14.1 years) in prison, minus the 419 days he was credited for pre-trial confinement.
Following his time behind bars, Smith will be placed on strict probation for 36 months and will have to register as a sex offender for 30 years. In addition, Letts issued a lifelong no contact order for Smith and his victim.