DNA used to nail 1991 rapist


Tue, August 17, 2004

THE NATIONAL DNA Databank and a teenager's dirty socks led to the sentencing yesterday of her rapist to five years in prison -- 13 years later. It's the second case in which the Toronto Police cold case sex crimes squad has obtained a conviction using the four-year-old databank. It's believed to be the third such case provincially.

Domenic Marchese, 50, was convicted on charges of sex assault, robbery and uttering a death threat in the January 1991 assault.

Marchese was nabbed when he was ordered to provide a DNA sample last year after an unrelated assault conviction. That matched samples in the databank of the 1991 sex case which had been extracted from the victim's socks.

Court heard the victim, a young prostitute, was attacked in the backseat of a car. Marchese wiped up the semen with her socks and she later handed them over to police.

Prosecutor Kerry Hughes said the case was "unusual" because the socks were the only evidence that had survived, including the rape kit. She said it was "the socks themselves which led to the conviction of the accused."

Hughes said the DNA cracked the case. Court heard the chance of someone else matching was one in 340 trillion.

"It's the DNA that's come to prominence in these kinds of cases because the jury is understanding it ... It is very convincing and it's because of the collection of the unknown DNA in the database matching so dramatically with evidence years later from the accused themselves."

Det. Const. Jeanille John called the database a "big plus for the police, the justice system and for the victims of crimes from so long ago that there will be justice some day."

Since 2001, two cases have gone on to conviction with others before the courts.