Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 25, 2008

'To Catch a Predator'

Man caught on NBC television show seeking a new trial

BERRIEN COUNTY — A Berrien County man convicted of attempting to entice a child for indecent purposes and attempted child molestation, after he was caught on Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator, via the Internet, has filed a motion for a new trial.

After being found guilty by a jury in Harris County Superior Court last November, 37-year-old Marvin Harrison Smith II has requested a new trial under grounds that the verdict was reached contrary to law, contrary to evidence and strongly against the weight of evidence. Smith has obtained new legal representation since the 2007 trial and is taking several steps to see that his conviction is overturned.

To Catch a Predator

If you’ve ever seen the To Catch a Predator series, then you know the purpose of the show is to identify potential sexual predators who have made contact via Internet with children or people they believe to be children for sexual conversation and/or activity. The cases, reported by Dateline Reporter Chris Hansen, are investigated as part of a sting operation with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies in a particular area and the Perverted-Justice Foundation, Inc., an organization known for investigating and identifying online sexual predators.

According to information found on, decoys from Perverted-Justice build profiles as minors in online communities, enter different chat-rooms and wait for people to send them messages. If and when the decoys are contacted by adults, they engage in conversation while investigators collect evidence that includes adult pornography, child pornography or sexually explicit chat.

The alleged offenders are invited to a house used in the sting operation and usually arrange a time when they believe the decoy will be home alone to visit. If and when the potential predators arrive at and enter the residence, they usually encounter Hansen, who conducts a brief interview before the suspects are taken into custody by law enforcement and charged.

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