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Salt Lake City woman holds no malice against alleged attacker

On Jan. 25, Anne Smart-Pearce discusses her recovery after nearly being killed during an attack at her home.
On Jan. 25, Anne Smart-Pearce discusses her recovery after nearly being killed during an attack at her home.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Anne Smart-Pearce can't sleep at night anymore.

Her family said it's fear that keeps the 86-year-old woman awake at night and asleep during the day.

On New Year's Day, Smart-Pearce was attacked and left for dead by a tenant who lived in the basement of her Brickyard home — an experience she doesn't remember.

Two other tenants barged into her room upon hearing cries for help and saw the third tenant, Arthel Martin, pulling her back onto her bed and placing a sheet over her, according to charges filed in 3rd District Court.

Yet Smart-Pearce holds no malice for Martin, who fled after the early morning incident but turned himself in to California Highway Patrol officers on the same day she was released from the hospital. Despite suffering injuries so severe that doctors feared she wouldn't survive, she hopes Martin will be all right.

"I feel really bad he did that because now he's facing a prison term, and he seemed like a really nice young man," Smart-Pearce told the Deseret News. "I don't feel anything against him."

Family members said they feel blessed that their beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother is recovering from injuries that include multiple facial swellings, a strangulation mark on her neck and possible bleeding inside her head.

The swelling has faded, but pain still riddles her body when she gets up in the morning or moves too much. But Smart-Pearce doesn't let it get her down. She's too used to staying active and doing things on her own.

She has rented out rooms in her home for the past 20 years. Before that, she took baby pictures in her photography studio — a lifelong dream she believes she was destined to fulfill.

Ever since she was a little girl, she was fascinated with photography.

"I worked at the telephone company in an office, but I would go look at enlargers in photography shops," she said. "I was just enthralled by them."

One day, she bought a camera and started making appointments to shoot portraits of babies. It became a career that her husband later adopted after he realized how successful the business was.

In her spare time, she visited seniors and helped look after multiple grandchildren.

Now, she spends her days resting and recovering from the attack.

The ex-wife of Smart-Pearce's accused attacker came to visit her in the hospital, apologizing for what happened and happy to see her recovering.

"I had the most sick, horrible feeling," the woman, who requested that her name not be printed, said about hearing of the attack. "I could not even believe it."

The incident shocked most who knew Smart-Pearce, and Martin, too.

Martin had only moved into the third room for rent a few weeks before the incident. Smart-Pearce had been in therapy and only met Martin a few times, having been asked to rent the room to him by LDS Hospital employees who knew Martin.

Before moving in, Martin had been living on the street and receiving treatment for cancer at the hospital. His ex-wife describes him as a "good man" with a "troubled past."

"I can tell he's very remorseful. He said he ran because he was scared but that he had to turn himself in," she said. "To do something to an old lady like this …"

Smart-Pearce's family said they're trying to get past the anger, but mostly they just don't understand.

"I was the first one at the hospital — it totally freaked me out," said Beth MaCodee, one of Smart-Pearce's eight children. "You feel inadequate that you didn't protect your mom."

Another daughter, Kathy Silcox, said it's hard to trust people anymore. She is more fearful of what could happen now.

Smart-Pearce is also worried about Martin's safety, should he go to prison. Martin's ex-wife told her she's seen posts on various Web sites that people want Martin dead — a possibility she said makes her fear a potential prison sentence.

"Even though he did a monstrous thing, it's sad he has to spend most of his life in prison," the ex-wife said.

Silcox said it's for the court to place judgment, not other prisoners.

"Beating or mistreating him won't make Mom feel better. It serves nobody," she said. "The thought of that happening is stressful."

Martin called his ex-wife after he turned himself in, asking if she could apologize to people for what happened. She said Martin has had a rough life.

"His mother died when he was 13; his father took a bat to him at 14," she said. "(He) spent his ages 14 to 16 in juvenile detention, and his father wouldn't visit him. Can you imagine that?

"His dad didn't want him around," she said. "All this kid needed was some love."

Yet, now he faces prison time for first-degree felony charges of attempted murder and aggravated robbery, not to mention a class A misdemeanor charge of abuse or neglect of a disabled or elder adult.

"He said he didn't know why he did it, that he remembers when the guys were coming in and he woke up, like out of a trance," Martin's ex-wife said. "I would never have believed he could hurt someone."

And Smart-Pearce? She's surrounded by family who loves her.

Her family recently honored the two tenants who rescued her with a celebration dinner. Smart-Pearce gave both men a copy of "Guardian Angels," a song by 1950s well-known tenor and actor Mario Lanza.

"They're my guardian angels," she said.

e-mail: lgroves@desnews.com