|By Corey Friedman, The Wilson Daily Times, N.C.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Chief District Court Judge
"I guess I should be happy that the charges have been dropped," Smith said, "but it's not over. I feel like I've just really been let down by the city of
Police said prosecutors recommended the dismissal after meeting with detectives, but they stand by the initial decision to arrest Smith.
"At the time, the elements were present and probable cause was established to make the appropriate charge for Ms. Smith,"
BURGLAR OR BOYFRIEND?
Smith said she didn't know the man she accused of attacking her, but she recognized him as a man who had previously approached her at her home and offered to cut her grass. She said she only learned the man's name when police turned the case report over to her attorney during pretrial discovery.
A police report lists 45-year-old
Smith said Lamm approached police claiming to be her boyfriend after she reported a break-in and sexual assault.
"They turned it into a domestic dispute," she said.
Police wouldn't say whether they believe that Smith and Lamm were romantically involved.
"The case was thoroughly investigated by police," Shelton said. "It was determined that the elements of the crime were not present."
Lamm is a registered sex offender who was released from prison in
Lamm was convicted of second-degree rape, second-degree sexual offense, committing a crime against nature, felony breaking and entering, common-law robbery, larceny and credit card theft.
A woman who identified herself as Lamm's mother answered the phone when The
Lamm's mother declined to give her name, but claims her son had been Smith's boyfriend.
She said that her son would have no comment and asked that his name not be used. Because of his past convictions, she fears that people will presume him guilty even when he's done nothing wrong.
PRIVATE EYE WEIGHS IN
To prepare for what she thought would be a trial on her false police report charge, Smith hired private investigator
Eatmon doesn't know what happened the night of
But he doesn't understand why police believed Lamm's story and charged Smith.
"I don't see where they had any reason to charge Bonnie," Eatmon said from his
Eatmon said Lamm phoned his office and made a veiled threat moments after Smith arrived for a consultation.
"Within five minutes of her sitting down in my office, I got a phone call from
Eatmon said he did not report the phone call to police.
The private investigator approached Lamm on
Lamm met Smith when he was knocking on her neighbor's door to advertise lawn maintenance services, according to Eatmon's interview. He offered his services to Smith, who told him she mowed her own lawn but her lawnmower was broken.
Eatmon said Lamm told him he left a note on Smith's door offering to fix her lawnmower for free.
'A LOT OF QUESTIONS'
Eatmon believes police fell for Lamm's story, which he said was well-rehearsed, but far from convincing.
"He's got a very good, detailed story," Eatmon said. "There's a lot of holes in it, though. You can tell this man has been questioned before, and he knows how to foresee the questions coming and have an answer. But he doesn't give you much that you can go and verify."
Smith said she turned her phone records over to police and her private investigator. She and Eatmon said the records show no calls or text messages between Smith's and Lamm's phones, which Smith says casts doubt on claims of a romantic relationship.
"I have her phone records," Eatmon said, "and I asked him, 'Was there any kind of cellphone communication, text message communication, any communication whatsoever? He said there wasn't."
Police wouldn't say whether they reviewed Smith's phone records or whether they had any evidence that she had been in contact with Lamm.
"I can't really speak to that," Shelton said.
Asked whether police knew of Lamm's rape and sexual assault convictions and whether his criminal record influenced his credibility, Shelton said he's "confident Detective (
Police said Lamm would have been arrested and charged if detectives found evidence that he had broken into Smith's home and assaulted her.
"If the elements had been present and he was developed as a suspect and probable cause was there -- for him or anybody else -- certainly, we would have gone through with requesting warrants," Shelton said.
Police consider the Smith case closed. Smith said she plans to pursue justice -- filing a complaint and trying to have the
"There's a lot of questions," Smith said. "I just can't understand how they could look at his file and arrest me."
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