2007-06-22 / Community

Rape Sentence of 16 Years For Rockaway Man

Trapped By "Cold DNA Hit" In Unrelated Case

A Far Rockaway man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for the 1999 sexual assault on a Jamaica woman after a "cold DNA" hit led to his arrest and conviction, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

A spokesperson for Brown identified the convicted man as Santiago Lugo, 45, of 333 Beach 32 Street.

The defendant, a former salesman, was found guilty last month of first-degree rape and four counts of first- degree sexual assault in Queens Supreme Court.

Brown said, "If this defendant had not been required to provide a DNA sample during the prosecution of an unrelated case, this crime would probably still be unsolved. In re-testing evidence from sexual assault cold cases in 2005, the Chief Medical Examiner positively linked semen found in the rape evidence kit of this victim to the defendant's DNA profile."

A spokesman for Brown said that, according to trial testimony, Lugo attacked the victim, then 23 years old, by grabbing her from behind as she walked from work to her home in Jamaica at approximately 11:50 p.m. on March 3, 1999.

He pressed a hard object to her back and ordered her not to look at his face if she did not want to be hurt. He led her to a secluded area, where he sexually abused and raped her before fleeing on foot.

"The case is yet another example of the crucial importance of DNA evidence, which is irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence," Brown said. This young woman is to be commended for coming forward ane confronting her attacker at trial. She testified with dignity and grace during her four hours on the witness stand.

Lugo had been held in jail since his arrest in 2005 by the Queens Special Victims Squad after the Chief Medical Examiner identified his DNA..

Supreme Court Justice John B. Latella set the determinate sentence of 16 years.

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