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DNA Evidence Brings New Charges

The kind of science not available back in 1995 has put a name to a rape suspect from 18 years ago.

Convicted sex offender Stanley Lightner is now charged with the rape of a 17 year old in 1995. But local 12 news has learned Lightner's DNA was left at the scenes of other rapes. Reporter Deborah Dixon shows us how science can mean justice decades after a crime.

Analysts here at the Hamilton County Coroner's Office started processing DNA in 1999. When they had time, they'd go back and analyze evidence collected from crime scenes before that.

"So biolgogical material processed in 1995 cases were done in between current cases being processed." Says Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco

Then along comes CODIS in 2000. The Combined DNA Indexing System. The data base matches DNA profiles from crime scenes to DNA of people arrested, or imprisoned.

This is the greatest hits of CODIS in Hamilton County. Back in 2000 scientists were able to say evidence from four rapes belonged to the same person but they had no idea who he was..Until now. The DNA left at the rape scenes belongs to this man, 46-year-old Stanley Lightner. He did ten years in prison for a 1996 attempted rape and kidnapping. When he got out in 2006 Lightner was declared a sexual predator. That requires him to register his address with police. But he didn't. So in May Lightner was arrested for failure to register. His dna profile was put in CODIS for the first time.

"CODIS did what it was supposed to mached dna to cases already in the system from 1995 18 years ago." Said Dr. Sammarco

In the lab, analysts know DNA evidence simply as a series of numbers. But when there is a so called hit. Even a scientist gets excited. "Its exciting, when one of those cases we're waiting to get a hit finally does, it's exciting happy about that." Chief DNA Analyst Joan Burke said.

Dr. Sammarco is happy science might give victims something that's eluded them for 18 years. "I hope it gives them closure and security can't take back what happened to them." Sammarco says this is a lesson to the bad guys. When you commit crimes you will leave something behind that will eventually lead back to you. Even if its 18 years later.

Cincinnati Police and the Prosecutor's Office say they are working on additional charges.




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