Man charged in Cape Girardeau rape case after DNA testing

Sunday, January 14, 2007

For the second time, Missouri's program of testing the DNA of all convicted felons has led to new charges in a Cape Girardeau County rape case, Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle announced Saturday.

Samuel C. Taylor, 28, faces charges of rape and robbery in the March 12, 2004, attack on a woman on South Frederick Street. In the attack, a 58-year-old woman was approached at about 1:30 a.m. by a man who offered to sell her drugs, Swingle said in a prepared statement.

After declining the offer, the woman told police she was struck from behind and beaten unconscious, Swingle said. When she awoke, her jaw was broken in two places, she had injuries to her face, ankle and neck and her purse and panties were missing, Swingle said.

No suspects were charged until the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that Taylor's DNA, collected following his 2006 conviction on felony charges of failing to pay child support, matched sperm found on the victim's clothes, Swingle said.

Taylor was charged Saturday to prevent him from fleeing prosecution for the rape and robbery, Swingle said. Taylor was due to be released today from the Cape Girardeau County Jail, where he is serving a 90-day sentence for resisting arrest.

"He was interviewed" Friday "so he knew police had identified him as a suspect," Swingle said in an interview.

Circuit Judge Ben Lewis set Taylor's bond at $100,000. Taylor is on probation for the felony conviction on child support, facing up to four years in prison if probation is revoked. Under the new charges, Taylor faces 10 to 30 years in prison if convicted, with state law mandating that he serve at least 85 percent of his sentence because both the rape and robbery charges are classified as dangerous felonies.

Taylor joins Ontario R. Reed, 24, formerly of the Malden, Mo., area as the two rape suspects identified as a result of a 2004 law requiring all felons then in custody and all newly convicted felons to provide a DNA sample. Prior to the law, only violent offenders and some sex offenders were required to provide DNA samples.

Reed is serving a 10-year sentence for robbery. His rape case, dating from the Aug. 6, 2001, invasion of an apartment in the 600 block of Sycamore Circle, has been moved to New Madrid County on a change of venue. He faces trial in May on one count of rape and one count of forcible sodomy.

"This is the second one in the last six months, and if it keeps going this well, there won't be any rapists left," Swingle said, adding that he is not sure how many unsolved rapes or other crimes from Cape Girardeau County could potentially be solved by DNA matching.

Since the law took effect, the highway patrol reported in September, DNA testing has identified suspects in almost 700 cases, including 57 homicides, 73 rapes and 40 sexual assaults. The patrol's report, on its Internet site, did not show how many of those cases have resulted in conviction.

The two local cases, as well as the large number of cases solved statewide, justify the costs of expanded DNA testing, Swingle said. "It is a significant expenditure of taxpayer money, but it is sure worth every cent," Swingle said. "These are not just minor offenses. These are the reasons you have a prosecutor's office and police."

335-6611, extension 126

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