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Utah man pleads guilty in 2014 rape case after DNA match to sexual-assault kit evidence

First Published      Last Updated Jul 12 2017 09:43 pm

Courts » Sexual-assault kit evidence links him to crime.

A Utah man has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in a rape case police say they solved two years after the crime thanks to a DNA match to sexual-assault kit evidence.

Richard Simon Garcia, 47, pleaded guilty in 2nd District Court on Monday to first-degree felony rape. He was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who was riding her longboard home in Davis County on Aug. 8, 2014.

Garcia faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 21. He was initially charged with three other counts in the August 2014 incident, including object rape and forcible sodomy, but the charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Charging documents allege that Garcia approached the young girl — who he did not know – and asked her if she wanted to go to a party. When she said no, he pulled her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her.

She couldn't identify her attacker, according to court records, but underwent a sexual-assault exam and her rape kit was sent to the crime lab for analysis.

But testing to identify an attacker took a year, and it was another year before the match was confirmed. In late January — nearly 2½ years after the girl's assault — prosecutors filed charges in the case.

In March, Crime Lab Directory Jay Henry estimated that it took the lab's DNA forensics section about a year to process a single sex-assault kit or any other sort of DNA evidence. Since then, the workers have moved into a new, bigger crime lab with a new robotics station that automates some of the DNA extraction process. Henry has said he hopes their turnaround time will soon be 30 to 60 days.

Garcia has a string of criminal convictions, some for sexual-related offenses, that stretch back as far as 1989. He is currently serving a prison sentence for a 2015 aggravated robbery conviction.