The girl and the woman sexually attacked by Joshua L. Smith were easy prey, prosecutor Jill Fedje told jurors Tuesday. The former, a 17-year-old, was vulnerable because of mental and physical disabilities, and the latter, a 57-year-old who stands only 4-feet-9, because of her size. Yet both had the courage to take the witness stand and tell how Smith brutally raped and beat them, Fedje said.

On Tuesday evening, the jury that heard their stories found Smith, 18, guilty of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the two attacks. He showed no emotion upon hearing the verdict.

Jurors, who returned the verdict after about five hours of deliberation, also found there were several aggravating factors, including multiple forms of penetration and particular cruelty. That will allow Ramsey County District Judge Margaret (Peg) Marrinan to impose a sentence longer than what is called for by state guidelines when she sentences Smith Dec. 3. He could face up to 48 years in prison.

Smith was found guilty of raping the 17-year-old girl on Sept. 8, 2006, after luring her into the basement of his St. Paul home and the 57-year-old woman shortly after midnight New Year's Day 2007. Even though he was 16 at the time of the attacks, he was certified to stand trial as an adult.

DNA found on the girl's underwear and on a swab taken from the mouth of the 57-year-old were a 100 percent match to a DNA sample provided by Smith.

During closing arguments Tuesday, the teenage victim, now 19, sat with her mother at her side as prosecutors recapped both attacks for the jurors. She was not present when the verdict was announced; her mother said she was in school, taking a test.

The girl had known Smith since junior high school and they had exchanged phone numbers after meeting at a park early that September. He called a few days later and invited her over.

He told the girl, who had just learned how to take a city bus, how to get to his house. When she arrived, he led her down a hill and into the basement, where he forced her to give him oral sex, then kicked her in the head and raped her.

The girl didn't report the rape, but a few days later, after noticing behavior changes, her mother looked in her backpack and found a note her daughter had written to a friend saying she had been forced to have sex with somebody.

The mother found the girl's underwear and turned it over to police, who in turn took it to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be analyzed for DNA.

"Thank gosh she had a mother who snooped," prosecutor Heidi Westby told the jury. "Thank gosh she had a mother to protect her."

The 57-year-old victim had shared a bottle of wine with her roommate and two friends who dropped by her St. Paul apartment on that New Year's Eve. About 10:30 p.m., she headed to Louie's Bar, less than a block from her home. She had two beers, then decided to walk to SuperAmerica, six or seven blocks up Payne Avenue, to buy cigarettes.

When she got within sight of the store, she realized it was closed and turned toward home. She took a shortcut, ducking under a privacy fence and cutting across the Salvation Army parking lot. The woman said the area was well-lighted and she felt secure enough to stop and have a cigarette.

Smith approached and made small talk, but quickly made the woman uncomfortable. She wished him a happy New Year and turned to go.

He dragged her behind a Dumpster and repeatedly raped her. When that was over, he dragged her kicking and screaming toward a tuck-under garage, where he beat, kicked and stomped her until she "played dead."

The woman had blood running down her face and into her eyes from a laceration to her forehead. When Smith left, she ran into the street and stopped a car. The driver called 911. The victim's desperate pleas, "Please don't leave me, please don't leave me," could be heard when the 911 call was played for the jury.

Four days after the attack, she helped a forensic artist from the BCA create a sketch of her rapist. Hannah Fearing, 17, testified that Smith's on-again, off-again girlfriend called her after seeing the sketch, saying, "Josh is on TV!"

Although Smith's girlfriend, Sineah Jones-Gray, testified that Smith didn't leave her house on Jan. 1 until between 1 and 1:30 a.m., Fearing said Smith left at 12:15 a.m. at the latest. The older woman was raped between 12:15 and 12:45 a.m.

Jones-Gray later called Fearing and asked her to change her story about what time Smith had left, Fearing testified.

Defense attorney Michael Michalski had argued that there were too many contradictions in the cases.

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551