State's New Fingerprint Computer Nets Two Suspects in Rapes of Elderly Women

Times Staff Writer

The state's new computerized fingerprinting system helped lead to the arrest of two men in connection with a recent series of beatings, rapes and robberies of elderly Hollywood women, police said Friday.

Convicted robbers Jerry Lee Smith and Clarence Robertson, both 25, were arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of rape, Lt. Ed Hocking said. Smith had been released from parole in December, 1984. Robertson was still on parole for robbery.

The men were wanted for the separate attacks and robberies of three women, all over 80 years of age, Dec. 17, as well as that of a 57-year-old woman Dec. 6.

Broken Bones

Two of the women were sexually assaulted, Hocking said. One of them suffered broken ribs and a concussion. Another suffered a possible nervous breakdown.

Fingerprints lifted from two of the crime scenes were identified as those of Smith by the state Department of Justice's computer system, known officially as the California Automated Latent Prints System, or CAL-ID, in Sacramento.

The same computer system earlier aided Los Angeles police in the arrests of Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez, as well as four men in the murders of Brian E. Harris, 20, and Michelle Ann Boyd, 19, both of Thousand Oaks.

Detectives arrested Smith without incident at his parents' home in South Los Angeles. Robertson was arrested as an accomplice several hours later at his apartment in Hollywood. Hocking said one of the men was in possession of items taken in the robberies.

Bail for One

Bail was set at $20,000 for Smith. Robertson was being held without bail as a parole violator.

While fingerprints found at the crime scenes were sent to the Department of Justice on Dec. 18, the computer did not match up the prints until Dec. 31, Hocking said.

He said the delay was due to the fact that the state system serves law enforcement agencies throughout California.

"Los Angeles needs its own computer print operation desperately," Hocking said. "We could have had these suspects off the street two weeks ago."

The Los Angeles Police Department's system requires technicians to hand-check prints. Police say it would take a technician 64 years to compare one print to the 1.7 million on file in the department, while the computer system is capable of doing the job in 45 minutes. The Los Angeles City Council has approved in concept the purchase of such a computer for Los Angeles police.

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