Convicted rapist pleads guilty to 1986 Tacoma murder

Christopher Leon Smith finally came clean Friday, admitting he strangled Carol Davidson in her Tacoma apartment 28 years ago.

Smith’s admission, which came in the form of a plea to second-degree murder, reduced some of Davidson’s friends and relatives to tears in Pierce County Superior Court.

“My mother can rest in peace now,” Davidson’s son, Jim Stevens, said outside court.

Smith, already serving 50 years to life on a previous unrelated rape conviction, faces the prospect of an additional 30-plus years when sentenced next week.

Deputy prosecutor Angelica Williams said the state will recommend a sentence of 33 years for Davidson’s murder and ask that it be served consecutively to Smith’s rape sentence.

That’s the high end of the standard range for Smith. The low end is nearly 25 years.

Davidson was 46 and the mother of five when she was found dead Aug. 30, 1986. She’d been bound, beaten and strangled, court records show.

Her killing went unsolved until last year, when Tacoma police detective Gene Miller, who investigates cold cases, used DNA evidence and other clues to tie Smith to the crime.

Smith, 51, originally denied knowing anything about Davidson’s death, but in court Friday he acknowledged he strangled her.

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