A Columbia man convicted in March of sexually assaulting a woman wholived in his apartment building was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Circuit Court Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. said he had no choice but to impose the maximum sentence on Willie Lee Small because of two prior violent crime convictions of robbery and armed robbery.
Following a five-day trial in March, a jury found Small guilty oftwo second-degree sex offenses and assault and battery in an attack against a 30-year-old Columbia woman.
Despite emotional testimony from the woman, who said she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by Small at knifepoint, the jury refused to convict him of rape.
Small testified that he and the victim had two sexual encounters prior to the May 27, 1990 assault.
The woman testified that she awoke in the middle of the night to find a knife in front of her face and a man standing by her bed.
She said the man raped her and told her not to look at his face. Her 6-year-old daughter slept across the hall during the attack.
The woman couldn't identify her assailant by his face, but took note of other distinguishing characteristics during the attack, such as his scarred back and black athletic shoes.
She identified Small as her attacker from police photos of the scarring on his back.
During the trial, prosecutor Timothy G. Wolf presented expert witnesses who stated that DNA taken from Small's blood matched DNA extracted from semen stains on the victim's underwear.