Convicted rapist now charged with murder from 1986 case

TACOMA, Wash. -- DNA evidence has helped prosecutors charge a convicted rapist with murder in the death of a 46-year-old woman whose case had went unsolved for nearly 27 years.

Christopher Leon Smith, 50, is already serving a prison sentence of 50 years to life for convictions of first degree rape, rape of a child and kidnapping stemming from a Pierce County case in 2009.

But now prosecutors say he was responsible for the death of Carol Davidson, whose body was found bound, gagged and beaten inside her home on Aug. 30, 1986. The medical examiner determined she died from strangulation.

During the investigation, Tacoma Police detectives found some of Davidson's belongings and a pack of Kool cigarettes on the ground below her apartment window, but were never able to identify a suspect and the investigation was eventually suspended.

But detectives took a fresh look at the case in 2012 when Tacoma Police created a Cold Case Unit. Investigators took some of the biological samples from the old case and submitted them to the state crime lab for a DNA analysis. A match came back to Smith stemming from his DNA profile that had been kept on record from his rape and kidnapping conviction in 2009, prosecutors said.

Smith had been a suspect in Tacoma-area rapes in 1983 and 1984, prosecutors said, and both victims reported that they had been beaten before being raped. One of the victims told detectives her attacker had bought a pack of Kool cigarettes while they were together. Smith was interviewed during those investigations and told a detective that he had consensual sex with both women, and that he smoked Kool cigarettes, prosecutors said.

In November, detectives spoke with Smith at the state prison in Walla Walla where Smith adamantly denied killing Davidson and declared that any DNA result that linked him to the crime is the result of a conspiracy.

Smith will make his first court appearance to answer to the murder charge on July 26.