A serial rape suspect currently held in Chicago’s Cook County Jail attacked one of his public defenders on Wednesday afternoon. The attack, which occurred inside of the jail, rendered the attorney unconscious.
According to the Cook County Jail’s executive director, Cara Smith, it appears as though Jimmie Terrell Smith hit one of the public defenders assigned to his defense against rape and other charges with his handcuffs. The alleged assault happened just after 2 p.m., when a meeting between Jimmie Smith and his two public defenders was concluding. Prison staff had taken special precautions with the alleged rapist by handcuffing his wrists in front of his body – a move taken because he had been discovered with contraband in the past. Jimmie Smith is currently assigned to the maximum security Division Nine of the prison.
First Assistant Public Defender Patrick Reardon described the injury to fellow public defender Russell Kruss as a cut on the back of his neck or head. Reardon was not harmed. The attack was stopped by corrections officers, who held the alleged rapist back. An ambulance was then called. Cara Smith said that the 49-year-old trial lawyer had been awake, alert and talking while he was transported to Mount Sanai hospital.
According to the Cook County Sheriff’s office, a homemade weapon was taken from Jimmie Smith. The makeshift knife was constructed using an asthma pump. A sheriff’s office spokesperson said that it has not yet been determined whether the knife was used by Jimmie Smith to attack Kruss.
According to Reardon, it is a common part of his job as a public defender to visit suspects in jail. Although being attacked by clients is a rare occurrence, it does happen, and has even occurred inside of the courtroom in front of the presiding judge. Reardon also mentioned that this is the second attack suffered by Kruss at the hands of a client within 11 years.
At the time of his arraignment on rape, attempted murder and kidnapping charges, Jimmie Smith was denied bail. He has been in jail for five years as he waits to be tried for the rape of five females, two of which were 14 years old, from 2006 – 2009. He is also alleged to have kidnapped the teens. In addition to the rape and kidnapping charges, Jimmie Smith faces charges of attempted murder due to the fact that he allegedly played Russian Roulette with two victims. He has entered a plea of not guilty.
The results of a 2011 investigation by the Chicago Tribune indicated that Jimmie Smith had confessed to having information regarding Yasmin Acree, 15, who disappeared from her home on the West Side of Chicago in January of 2008 and has never been found. Jimmie Smith moved into the same duplex as the young honor student upon his release from prison after a 10-year term for attempted murder, and her diary contained a reference to missing the parolee after he had moved out. He will offer no additional details as to the disappearance of Acree. Jimmie Smith has also confessed to reporters from the Tribune and authorities that he committed three murders which had gone unsolved, and perhaps even more, after his parole in 2005.
In 2012, while in jail, Jimmie Smith was charged with aggravated battery, attempted murder and having a weapon inside of the jail. Later in that same year, he was charged again with two more counts of possessing a weapon in the correctional facility. In addition to rape, attempted murder and kidnapping, he will now face more charges for the attack on Kruss.
By Jennifer Pfalz