SANTA CRUZ >> Sometimes, lies have a tendency to snowball out of control and "take on a life of their own," the defense for accused child molester Randy Jay Smith said Monday in court.
Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Steve Moore, referring to upcoming testimony from six different witnesses, said that lightning just does not strike the same person six times.
"Really bad things don't just happen to a person over and over again," said Moore.
Attorneys offered opening statements before a jury in the trial of Smith, 59, of La Selva Beach. Smith faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted, according to charging documents. A partial audio recording of Smith admitting guilt to some aspects of the alleged sexual molestations of several young girls was played by the prosecution. Smith is accused of 14 separate sexual molestation-related charges with five different girls between the ages of 4 and 9, from 1993 through 2007. He was arrested Aug. 18, 2011.
Sitting at the defense table Monday in a tie and gray and white checkered suit, Smith betrayed little emotion during opening arguments and initial witness statements. Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Salazar's courtroom gallery was virtually empty during opening arguments, however both defense attorney Aimee Buentello and Moore described Smith as a well-liked and even a popular member of his extended family.
The morning's first witness, whose name is not being released by the Sentinel due to her allegations of sexual abuse, described three separate occasions in which Smith allegedly touched her inappropriately. The woman, wringing her hands beneath the witness stand, said it was difficult to be in court, accusing Smith. While describing the most serious of her allegations, involving digital penetration, the woman trailed off, apparently unable to continue in her testimony for a short period before the court paused for a lunch break.
Moore said Monday that he will have a sixth alleged victim come forward as a witness during the trial, although no charges were brought in that case.
Buentello said the sixth alleged victim is a "red herring."
"It's to make up for the weak evidence you'll hear in this case," Buentello said.
Buentello, who will serve during the trial as co-counsel with defense attorney Jerry Vinluan, stressed that "Randy Smith did not molest those girls."
There will be no forensic or DNA evidence offered in the case, Buentello said, as alleged victims either came forward or were questioned only years after the accused crimes, in most cases.
"This is all he-said, she-said," Buentello said. "It comes down to the credibility of the witnesses."
Witness testimony in the case is expected to extend at least through the end of this week, Moore said.