Three days before she was killed, Delta Air Lines flight attendant Karmen Smith ran upstairs and yelled to her roommate, “Your stalker is calling me.”
That statement from the roommate, Loretta Spencer Blatz, capped about five hours of her testimony Thursday in the Cobb County Superior Court murder trial of Smith’s accused killer, Waseem Daker.
Prosecutors say Daker stabbed and strangled Smith in her Marietta home on Oct. 23, 1995. Daker also is accused of stabbing Smith’s 5-year-old son 16 times when he returned home from school that day. The boy survived.
Prosecutors say Daker, 35, of Lawrenceville was motivated by revenge and an increasing obsession with Blatz.
Daker served a decade in prison for stalking Blatz before being released in 2006. It wasn’t until 2009 that hairs collected from Smith’s body were linked to Daker through DNA testing.
Blatz, 47, avoided eye contact with Daker while on the witness stand and became emotional when talking about a “campaign of barraging calls,” home break-ins and constant surveillance that Daker subjected her to in the months leading up to the slaying.
Daker, who has pleaded not guilty in Smith’s slaying and is acting as his own lawyer during the trial, is expected to cross-examine Blatz Friday.
Blatz told jurors she was 29 in 1994 when she met Daker, then 17, while playing in paintball tournaments. They struck up conversations about paintball that soon turned personal, with Daker confiding he had problems at home and was having suicidal thoughts, she said.
Blatz, who worked in a doctor’s office, said at first she acted as a “bigger sister type.”
“He was really reaching out and needing somebody,” Blatz testified. “He was telling me he didn’t have anybody to talk to, and I was trying to help him.”
But by 1995 Daker’s incessant calls to her home and office became frightening, she said.
“I was pulling back and he would get extremely irate, saying I was the only one he had to talk to and he would kill himself if I would not talk to him,” Blatz testified.
She told jurors about coming home several times to find Daker hiding in her bedroom or in her 10-year-old daughter’s closet, and about two encounters where he confronted her with a gun that she subsequently talked him out of using. She said he would follow her to restaurants and stores and lurk around her office and apartment.
In an attempt to evade Daker, Blatz said she moved Sept. 1, 1995, from an apartment complex in Roswell to a house at 1580 Old Hunters Trace that she shared with Smith.
During the next few weeks, Blatz said she became friends with Smith, and Smith’s son, Nick, played often with Blatz’s daughter.
Earlier that year, Daker had been arrested for stalking Blatz, but she had decided to drop the charges when he promised to seek mental health treatment and return to his home country of Syria. After Smith’s killing, Daker was arrested again and convicted of stalking Blatz.
Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans asked Blatz Thursday whether she regretted her initial decision to drop the charges against Daker.
She plucked a tissue from a box next to her, doubled over, and cried for several seconds.
“I have many regrets,” Blatz said after composing herself, her shaky hands still wiping away tears.
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