Sheriff’s deputies then used duct tape to mark lines on the floor, restricting how close Daker will be allowed to get to jurors. Daker also will not be allowed to hand documents directly to jurors or handle knives that are to be introduced later in the trial.
Daker was charged two years ago in the 1995 strangulation death of Karmen Smith, 30, in her basement apartment of a home in the Hunter’s Trace subdivision, which is off Johnson Ferry Road near the intersection with Roswell Road. Smith was a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines.
Daker, now 34, is also charged with aggravated battery on Smith’s son, Nickolas, who was stabbed 16 times on Oct. 23, 1995. Nickolas Smith was 5 years old and in kindergarten at Timber Ridge Elementary at the time, but he survived and is expected to testify in the trial.
Prosecutors intend to show Smith’s killing was a sexual homicide. But Daker, in a lengthy opening statement, told jurors: “I don’t think the evidence in this case is going to show who killed Karmen Smith, but I do think it will show that I did not.”
Daker did not appear to have any relatives in the courtroom. For the trial, he shaved off the long ponytail he wore at earlier pre-trial hearings.
The state’s first witnesses Wednesday afternoon were a babysitter, Kathryn Thompson, who on that afternoon was with Nickolas and Christine Valenti, a young girl who lived in the upstairs part of the home, and the babysitter’s boyfriend, Scott Thompson. The couple have since married.
Scott Thompson, now a firefighter in East Point, choked up in his recounting of that afternoon. The children had gone to the basement to play, he said, but just a minute later, the young girl came running back upstairs and out of the house, screaming.
“She came back shortly thereafter, screaming that Nick had been pulled into a bedroom,” he said. His girlfriend went downstairs and returned, saying it looked like ketchup everywhere, and that’s when Scott Thompson went downstairs.
“It wasn’t ketchup. It appeared to be blood to me,” he said. “From the back door, I saw blood. I think Nick was under the table at the time. I took Kat to the backyard, I took her to the driveway and said get down the street and call 911. … I saw an ax, picked it up, and I was going to get that boy out. I went inside and at first I walked around. From what I could recall I walked around a bit to make sure I wasn’t going to be attacked before I got (Nick). … I almost feel like I was being used by God.”
He then went to Nick, who wasn’t breathing.
“He was stabbed multiple times. He had no chest rise. I didn’t know CPR. This might sound crazy, but I slapped him in the face and yelled ‘You’re not going to die!’ I slapped him several times. He spit blood on my face and I picked him up, pressed him real hard against my chest. … The back of his shirt was soaked in blood, and his fingers were all cut up. … I went out the back door and ran as fast as I’ve ever run in my life, hoping 911 was on the way to 1601 Old Hunter’s Trace.”
That is where his girlfriend lived with her parents.
Jurors reviewed some crime-scene photos, including one of blood spots in the apartment and Karmen Smith as she was found in her bed, underneath bedcoverings.
Daker was a teenager at the time Smith was killed. In 1996, he was convicted of stalking Smith’s upstairs housemate, Lottie Blatz, and spent 10 years in prison before he was released in 2006. Blatz is also expected to testify at Daker’s murder trial.
In January 2010, Daker was charged with malice murder, four counts of felony murder, burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and other charges in this case. He could face life in prison if convicted of murder.
According to Daker’s indictment, he was not “positively identified as having committed the crimes until DNA results were obtained in December of 2009.”