Man gets life in 1983 kidnapping, rape of Highland Park woman



Posted on December 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 7 at 1:29 PM

DALLAS - A man linked by DNA to the rape and kidnapping of a Highland Park woman in 1983 was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday.

Marion Sayles was found guilty of attempted capital murder after the jury deliberated for 30 minutes.

Nearly 30 years ago, "Mary Smith" was raped, shot and left in a field to die. Smith survived the attack and testified at Sayles' trial.

"How dare you?" she said to Sayles. "You tried to destroy my life. And by the grace of God, I'm here. And you are now serving a life sentence for what you did to me. God bless you."

Sayles sat quietly as the verdict was read. The judge asked Sayles if he had anything to say, and Sayles said a few words about forgiveness.

"I know Jesus Christ forgive everybody," he said. "Everybody has a life again after death, and it all begins at the cross."

"Victory and justice," Mary Smith said as she left the courtroom.

"There's no words to describe it, quite frankly," she continued. "I'm just so grateful."

DNA evidence exonerated Raymond Jackson and James Williams, who were both convicted in the rape and shooting of Smith. Both men said their convictions were based on eyewitness accounts. They were both declared innocent in April after serving nearly 30 years behind bars.

Authorities said the DNA evidence led them to Sayles and another man, Frederick Anderson. Anderson still faces trial.

Smith said she hopes showing her face will empower more victims.

"I just want to give everybody courage and the ability to speak out and say, 'Yeah, that happened to me, too. And now I'm going to go and face my abductor -- my rapist."