DNA unravels 1986 rape case - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

DNA unravels 1986 rape case

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2004 7:35 am | Updated: 5:35 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A 34-year-old Colorado prison inmate has been named a suspect in a Mesa sexual assault that took place nearly 18 years ago.

Anthony Morris has been identified through DNA evidence as a suspect in the April 26, 1986, rape of a 40-year-old woman, said Mesa Police Department detective Chris Rash.

The woman, who lived near Dobson and Broadway roads, was asleep when an attacker broke in through her patio door and sexually assaulted her, Rash said.

"When I first contacted her, before the case was solved, she was quite surprised that this many years later anyone was still interested in the case," Rash said. "She seemed shocked and amazed we were able to identify anyone."

The woman, who still lives in Arizona, fully intends to take the stand against Morris, Rash said.

The case was reactivated when sex crime detectives began pouring over old cases in October 2002, Rash said. Detectives hoped DNA technology not available in the mid-1980s might help solve cold cases.

Morris, who has spent a "good portion" of his life in prison on property and drugrelated crimes, has denied involvement in the case, Rash said.

However, DNA tests showed that only one in 7.9 trillion people would have the same DNA profile, said forensic chemist Kim Fiorucci.

Morris would have been 16 at the time of the attack, Rash said.

Morris is in prison for violating probation on a firearms offense, Rash said.

He is eligible for parole this month, but if released, he will be brought to Arizona to face sexual assault, kidnapping and burglary charges.

Last year, Mesa’s crime lab found or compared DNA in 587 cases, said supervisory criminalist Gini Smart.

Approximately six cold cases have been resolved since October 2002, officials said. The Morris case would be the oldest taken to trial. Because state law requires DNA testing for any convicted felon, Maricopa County detention officers on Wednesday began collecting DNA samples from 1,500 inmates being housed in the county’s jails.

The samples will be sent to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s crime lab for analysis and development of DNA profiles, which can then be deposited into state and national databanks.

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