Skip to comments.After 13 Years, a Rape Arrest ('John Doe' DNA 'hit')
Posted on 09/22/2007 5:02:37 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
Six years after a woman was raped in her north side home and locked in the trunk of her car, prosecutors charged a man for the attack with no idea what his name was.
The clock was running out on the statute of limitations, and with little to go on but a vague description, investigators hadn't made an arrest. They had DNA evidence, but the year was 2000 - and Wisconsin's new law requiring felons to give DNA samples had put fewer than 500 profiles into the State Crime Laboratory's files. None of them matched.
So Milwaukee prosecutors took the best shot they had: issuing a no-name warrant, only the fourth of its kind, on whoever possessed the DNA and blindly hoping that the offender would someday turn up.
This summer, after seven years of searching, he did.
A court filing this week attaches the name of Boscobel prison inmate Mackenzie C. Burse to the DNA sample found on the body of the woman after she was raped 13 years ago.
When Burse walks into Milwaukee County's intake court Tuesday to face felony counts of rape and kidnapping, prosecutors will add his name to a growing list they say continues to validate their 1999 decision to charge "John Doe" cases for unsolved crimes that identify the defendant by DNA, not name.
Years before it led to Burse this summer, the method spread to prosecutors nationwide and also prompted a change in Wisconsin law. Now, the statute of limitations for rape includes the calendar year after a DNA sample matches a person, making the "John Doe" charging technique obsolete in most cases.
Yet DNA matches of the old cases continue to trickle in. The new Milwaukee prosecutions of Burse and Rodney Washington, formerly John Doe No. 4 and John Doe No. 5, came into court because of the steadily increasing number of convicted offenders whose DNA samples enter state computers. Where Wisconsin only had 500 DNA profiles in early 2000, the number is now over 100,000, said Milwaukee prosecutor Norman Gahn, the architect of the Milwaukee "John Doe" charging method.
He's now attached 10 named defendants to the 20 cases he filed against "John Does" - mostly stemming from 1990s sexual assaults.
"I'm surprised at the number of hits we've gotten on these cases," Gahn said. "But I shouldn't be surprised because as the data bank just continues to grow and grow, the chances of finding the person just continue to grow exponentially."
Though the 2002 law change allowed prosecutors greater leeway in sex cases and less need to charge John Does, they still charge other cases that way if they have DNA but no name. Two of the 20 John Doe warrants were filed in burglary cases.
Several of the earlier DNA matches have already led to convictions. Washington is fighting the charges. His attorney has said he'll contest the validity of the DNA evidence matching him to a string of Milwaukee rapes in 1994 and 1995.
Gahn marveled Friday at being able to attach Burse's name to the long-ago attack of a woman on N. 38th St.
"Good Lord, it's now 13 years after the assault," Gahn said. "I shouldn't be surprised."
He had continued to hope that the warrant would eventually find someone, he said.
"We figured that this wasn't the only crime that this person's going to commit. Eventually they'll be caught for something and the DNA sample will match up," Gahn said.
I like it when the bad guys get caught.
Me too but what purpose is there to a statute of limitations if the statute is so easily circumvented?
As do I.....I do not think there should be a statute of limitations on violent crimes such as rape....
Anybody know what the purpose of a statue of limitations is?
I agree. The guy is a scumbag, but I think he has a pretty valid argument that the statute of limitations bars the prosecution of this crime, especially if it applies to cases prior to an enactment of the new law.
Yeah, doesn't everyone?
Thank God science and the people who administer it are flawless.
They are flawless, aren't they? And unbiased?
Why is it ever any surprise that people like this go on to commit other (and usually worse) crimes?
I’m completely against invading the privacy of Law Abiding Citizens, but am I wrong to see nothing but good in basically “tagging” criminals in hopes of making them pay in the future for all past crimes as well?
I’m glad this woman finally got justice, but this kind of rubs me the wrong way...DNA is not infallible, which any lawyer worth his salt could prove...and I sure wouldn’t want to be accused of a crime over BOGUS DNA evidence! (The Duke LaCrosse/Nifong case comes immediately to mind.)
If they’re taking it all of one cloth, say the perp already has other similar crimes and is bad enough to be in the system in the first place...but what if Mother Government decides that tagging us all (say due to a drunk and disorderly arrest or for a traffic ticket) is “for the better good?”
Kinda torn on this one, as I am on a lot of issues of this sort.
See my Post #8. Within minutes, LOL!
If she had a gun, it would have only been attempted rape, and they would have had the perp seven years ago.
The Duke case is different than this one. In the Duke case, the prosecution hid the fact that there was DNA from 3-4 men not associated with the LAX team in the underwear of the ‘victim’.
Aside from that, I agree with most of your post.
Correction. 13 years ago.
You mean like this?
slopes can be slippery
The potential for abuse is astonishing. And it's the sort of thing no one will care about until it happens to them. And by the time enough people have experienced it...
This wiki article probably covers it. Look at the second section, Rationale.
Imagine if you were accused of a crime and the people who could alibi you were now dead or had no recollection of the time in question.
My understanding is that there is a limit to how long you can expect to have accurate eye witness testimony. The more time passes, the less able to find witnesses for prosecution or defense, the less likely it is for the accused to have any possibility to defend themselves, and the more likely for some innocent person to get railroaded.
Now that we have the technology, or appear to have, to store accurate evidence that theoretically identifies a single individual, the statute of limitations does not mean the same thing exactly.
And, there would be no need for a black box that says your guilty after the fact.
I think the only people who love liberty enough to sacrifice for it any more are 1st generation immigrants.
My guess would be that the woman who got raped (and all the future women who would get raped by this guy) don’t give a damn about all the soul searching over legal niceties.
Finally, that lady will get justice.
Also many crimes have the sentencing greatly increased or changed from state to federal statues.
A guy gets convicted of a crime he commits in 1985 from DNA evidence in 2007, do you sentence him under 1985 guidelines or new much tougher guidelines?
I agree that the application of the laws should be reviewed in light of improved technology. But I am as wary of this as the other doubtful posters.
It would help this discussion to know what sort of DNA is involved in this case.
In CA's 2004 general election, we had a DNA database proposed for folks simply arrested for *any* felony. This initiative, Prop 69, passed with over 60% of the vote.
We stand on an increasingly slippery slope.
I like you more every day! :) You and I have met up on other posts, and we see things through the same eye most times.
I want bad people caught and tried for their crimes. I want them to suffer as much as their victims have; though that NEVER seems to even out, does it?
However, I can CLEARLY see that even a boring Farm Gal like me, one that you wouldn’t pick out of a line-up on any given day, could actually be snared by some form of law enforcement that she may have voted to approve in the past!
It’s scary. I think about this stuff waaaaay too much, LOL! (And, of course, I read waaaaay too my Ayn Rand and George Orwell.)
I’m certain you’re correct. Having never been a victim of a crime other than a robbery when I wasn’t home, I can’t imagine what she’s felt all these years...though it can’t have been a good, safe feeling.
After we were robbed, I felt that my HOME had been violated, but a wise cop told me that I had no need to be afraid; the perp just wanted things in my home that he could fence for drugs; it wasn’t anything personal.
You are wrong about the 3-4 men.
Crystal had the DNA of “at least” four men. Actually the number is higher but for some reason they are afraid to say how many.
A real sperm bank she is. And not prosecuted. Why?
As much as I want to see bad guys put away, it seems to me the “government” keeps searching for ways to circumvent protections. MOST of the time, this is to the good, but not always.
“MOST of the time, this is to the good, but not always.”
What I meant to say is that when they come up with these new circumventions, the science is usually right, but not always. And there’s so much potential for abuse.
Anybody know what the purpose of a statue of limitations is?
The statutes of limitations do not apply when someone has been charged with a crime. This case is unusual because they were able to have a judge sign off on a “John Doe”. Once that’s done, the “clock” is stopped.
I would imagine the longer times goes on, the problems will be with proving chain of evidence was followed for the evidence of various types. People in LE move, retire, die or become unavailable for various reasons over the years.
Her defense would be pretty simple: "Nifong talked me into pressing charges."
So if DNA is all it takes to convict someone, then if I wanted to get away with a crime, I would go into a public restroom and collect some samples off of the urinals, plant them where the deed was done, and wait for the UK mentality to take hold here where they want everyone’s DNA entered into a database from birth and voila a match is found. Now the person would be completely innocent but just try proving that, why else would your DNA be on the body huh????
How can she claim Nyfong talked her into pressing charges?
Nifong has claimed under oath that he never talked to her.
Prosecutor or prostitute? Who does one believe? Yhey are both in the same business, f#$king with people.
The Duke rape hoax is incredible. The behavior of the Duke president and some of the faculty has been incredible. I thought I knew the worst of it but then I started reading the book by K.C.Johnson called “Until Proven Innocent” and realize that it was a terrible civil rights violation. Why the feds never moved in is unclear. Why Crystal was never prosecuted is unclear.
Based on first hand experience, the feds generally have little interest in prosecuting corrupt prosecutors or judges. Career federal prosecutors are generally liberal and won’t prosecute Democrats.
All that might have been reasonable and rational 40 years ago, absent any hope of alternative credible evidence, but irrelevant if your DNA evicence is all over victims of violent crimes.
DNA by itself does not provide any context. I could sneak into your house, collect your DNA, and spread it all over a victim of a violent crime, and they’d find you guilty by your rationale.
The book “Unintended Consequences” has an interesting scene where dna is harvested from the almost innocent and planted where they would never go. Or want to.
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