When the 57-year-old rape victim met with a sketch artist on Jan. 4, her left eye was purple and swollen shut, the laceration on her forehead was thick with stitches and she was still in pain from the brutal attack four days earlier.

Still, she carefully focused on helping Marcia Cummings, then a forensic artist for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, create a sketch of her attacker.

"She was trying extremely hard to do a good job on this composite," Cummings testified Wednesday in the rape trial of Joshua L. Smith, 18. "She told me over and over she wanted to get the picture right."

Jurors saw that sketch projected onto a large white screen Wednesday morning. A few hours later, the jury saw it again, side by side with a photo of Smith, taken when he was 15.

The sketch and photo are strikingly similar.

Smith is charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He is accused of repeatedly raping and then beating the 57-year-old woman not long after midnight on New Year's Day 2007 in the parking lot of the Salvation Army on Payne Avenue on St. Paul's East Side. He also is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl with physical and cognitive disabilities after luring her into the basement of his home on Sept. 8, 2006. Smith was 16 at the time of the attacks and was certified to stand trial as an adult.

Testimony Wednesday again centered on the New Year's Day rape. Officer Jeremiah McQuay said he arrived at 12:49 a.m. and was the first squad at the scene. The victim was already in an ambulance, wearing a neck brace and covered with a white blanket.

McQuay said the victim was in pain and uncomfortable but seemed coherent when she told him she'd been at Louie's Bar on Payne Avenue and decided to walk to SuperAmerica to buy cigarettes. When she realized the store was closed, she turned back. She said she was walking through the Salvation Army parking lot when a male grabbed her from behind, McQuay recalled.

McQuay said that the victim told him the male was already wearing a condom when he attacked her and that he took it off before he finished.

Sgt. Paul Schnell, the lead investigator of the rape, found that condom behind a Dumpster, where the victim said she was assaulted, he said Wednesday. Other officers found the condom wrapper near a pine tree next to a fence along one side of the parking lot.

Foot prints and a bike-tire track were found in the fresh-fallen snow on the other side of the fence. Prosecutors contend Smith rode a bike to and from the attack.

Schnell testified that investigators checked the alibis of "probably 200 people" looking for a suspect. DNA found on the 57-year-old victim and on the condom did not match anyone in national sex offender databases, he said.

Smith became a suspect after DNA from the Sept. 8, 2006, rape matched that of the New Year's Day rape. The victim of the September rape had known Smith since junior high school, prosecutor Heidi Westby said during her opening statement Tuesday.

Smith was arrested March 1, 2007, at a relative's home in Racine, Wis.

The teenage victim is expected to testify today.

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551