That’s Not A Ham Sandwich!

October 19th, 2009at 07:25pm Posted by Eli

Here’s a creative workaround to the statute of limitations…

Nearly 10 years had passed since a college student was raped on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and with no known suspect in the 1993 case, the police were not close to an arrest. But what they did have was nearly as critical: the rapist’s DNA profile.

Prosecutors in Manhattan — aware that the legal clock for bringing a case was running out — devised the novel strategy of indicting the rapist’s DNA. Four years later, the sample was connected to a man, Victor Rondon; he was eventually convicted and sentenced to 44 to 107 years in prison.

While there have been many celebrated cases in which DNA evidence has been used to overturn wrongful convictions, often many years after the trial, such evidence has become essential in solving cold cases.

In New York City, prosecutors have secured 117 indictments of DNA samples in rape cases, linked 18 of those profiles to specific people, and obtained 13 convictions, either through trials or negotiated pleas. Five cases are pending.

“What we said was, ‘There is no reason for people to get away with rape because of the statute of limitations,’ ” said John Feinblatt, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s criminal justice coordinator. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind it; they shouldn’t be able to race for time and get over the finish line and leave a victim without a case being solved.”

Sounds good to me.  I’m not a big fan of the statute of limitations concept – if there are extenuating circumstances like hazy witness memory or the suspect’s subsequent upstandingness, then bring them up during trial.

Entry Filed under: Constitution

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