BALDWIN COUNTY, ala (WALA) - On Wednesday, May 1, Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon made a motion to sentence a registered sex offender for child pornography charges without needing him present.
John David Smith has been on the run since March 22, when he cut off his ankle monitoring device and fled the morning he was to learn that sentence.
"We had hoped, of course, that we'd be able to get Mr. Smith back in our custody within a month," Dixon said. "That didn't happen, and so we have elected to go ahead and ask the court to sentence him in absentia, meaning without him being present."
Dixon hoped to give his victim a chance to look Smith in the face at his sentencing, but she said the in absentia will have to do, for now.
The motion also strips him of the very bond that was the reason he was even able to flee.
Since Smith had a property bond using his mother's home, Dixon plans to lure him back to Robertsdale by foreclosing on the home. She said that will send a message to Smith, and any family members who could be helping him hide.
"Maybe if they realize that the matriarch will lose her property, maybe they come forward and be honest about where he is and put some pressure on him to 'man up,'" Dixon said.
With him sentenced this way, Dixon said it allows the Marshals to utilize some special tactics, like monitoring borders.
"I expect us to get him back one way or the other," Dixon said. "A sentenced felon who has essentially evaded a sentence, the extradition process is a little bit easier, the process of getting local law enforcement officers to participate- for whatever reasons, [the U.S. Marshals] believe it will make it a little simpler for them to be able to get him back."
Dixon said a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole will be awaiting Smith.
"I want him to breathe his last breath in prison," Dixon said. "I think that would be justice. Had Mr. Smith come on to sentencing he probably would've had the possibility of just a life sentence, so there's some poetic justice in that. It gave us some more time to dig a little further, and close those loop holes a little better."
Dixon expects to hear back from the court about her motion in the next 30 days.
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