Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Baton Rouge man sentenced to 40 years for 1987 rape

A woman claimed she was raped the Expressway Park at 935 S. 11th Street in Baton Rouge on May 8, 1987, when she was 25. After the alleged attack, she said she went directly to a hospital for a sexual assault examination.

In May 2009, the Louisiana State Police crime lab reportedly matched the DNA samples taken just after the reported attack to a 51-year-old man from Baton Rouge. The man's DNA samples were in the system from an arrest that occurred after the alleged rape.

The police arrested the man in February 2010. He was charged with aggravated rape and second-degree kidnapping. Last Wednesday, the man pleaded guilty to forcible rape. State District Judge Bonnie Jackson sentenced the defendant to 40 years, which is the maximum penalty for forcible rape. If he had been sentenced for aggravated rape, he would have received an automatic sentence of life in prison.

Allegations of rape or sexual assault often involve collecting hair and fiber strands, blood samples, DNA samples and other fragile evidence. If this evidence is improperly collected or handled carelessly, the samples can become tainted and therefore unreliable. For example, proteins and other chemical compounds can degrade under specific temperature and light conditions. Blood and DNA can become unreliable when brought into contact with certain chemical solutions.

A defense attorney will carefully evaluate any physical evidence that has been collected. This may include sending the evidence for independent testing and thoroughly reviewing the lab technicians' actions. This is just one of many reasons why it is important to hire an experienced lawyer.

Source: 2theadvocate, "BR man sentenced for 1987 forcible rape," 11 Feb. 2011

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