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Queens DA: DNA Links Convicted Felon To 1996 Cold Case Rape

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown (file / credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown (file/credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A convicted felon from Queens has been indicted for an 18-year-old unsolved rape after a DNA match linked him to the case, prosecutors announced.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Richard Thomas was arraigned on first degree rape and sodomy charges for the July 1996 attack.

The DA said the woman and her husband were awakened by an intruder in their Far Rockaway home. He threatened them with a gun before raping the wife.

“My office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been systematically reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in Queens County dating back to 1996 – which is as far as the statute of limitations permits. In this case, the Queens District Attorney Cold Case team located evidence from the crime scene that had not been submitted previously for DNA testing,” Brown said in a statement. “That evidence was found to contain semen from which a DNA profile was developed. The DNA databanks then matched that profile to the defendant.”

If convicted, Thomas could face up to 25 years in prison.

Thomas is serving a 50-year sentence for sex assaults on a 12-year-old girl in 2004 and on a woman in 1996. Both cases were solved through DNA.

Defense attorney Scott Davis declined to comment on Monday.

The DA’s cold case initiative has led to 13 indictments for 17 separate criminal incidents. The efforts began nearly two years ago using federal grant money.

The initiative focuses on identifying evidence that has not been previously tested, and also on retesting rape kit samples using more sensitive modern techniques.

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