A Frederick man entered an Alford plea of guilt Friday to three counts each of second-degree assault and knowingly transferring HIV to three women.
Rudolph Jericho Smith, 37, was facing seven counts each of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and knowingly transferring or attempting to transfer HIV to another person and was set to go to trial Oct. 1. He will instead appear in court for a sentencing hearing scheduled for Nov. 4 before Circuit Judge Julia Martz-Fisher, according to court records and a press release issued Friday by the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office.
An Alford plea means a person maintains their innocence but acknowledges that state prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.
Smith remains in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center, where he has been held without bail since May 5 after he was served with a warrant charging him with additional offenses following his initial indictment, according to court records.
Smith first came to the attention of Frederick police detectives in July 2017 when a woman called police and told them she had tested positive for HIV after having sex with Smith and that she believed he transferred the virus to her, according to previous stories in The Frederick News-Post. More women were later identified, including three who came forward after Smith was charged with an initial indictment in April.
Police learned that Smith had used online dating profiles to meet women, according to previous stories.
In order to convict someone of knowingly transferring or attempting to transfer HIV to another person — a misdemeanor under the state’s general health law — police and prosecutors must be able to prove that the person charged was aware that they were HIV-positive at the time.
Smith admitted to detectives that he was aware he had the virus since at least 2014, but continued to have unprotected sex with several women he met, according to previous stories.
“The facts of this case are still very disturbing to me. For someone to intentionally transmit a disease such as this is horrible,” Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith wrote in a statement released by his office Friday. “These victims will have to live with this for the rest of their lives.”
Assistant public defenders Theodore Turnblacer and Jennifer Dayton, who represent Rudolph Smith, declined to comment on the case while it remains open.