QUEENS — A man serving 16 years for burglary was charged with raping two Queens woman in 1997 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime, according to the Queens District Attorney's Office.
Johnny Dupree, 55, was arraigned on the new charges last Friday after DNA samples taken after the rapes matched a sample given by Dupree when he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in 2000, prosecutors said.
“My office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been systematically reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in Queens County dating back to 1996 — which is as far as the statute of limitations permits," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday. "In this case, DNA evidence was collected from the rape victims and crime scenes at the time of the incident and stored in a database."
Dupree allegedly raped a 23-year-old woman at knifepoint and then robbed $20 from her while her three children were sleeping inside their apartment on 129th Street in Richmond Hill on July 11, 1997. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital where evidence was taken from the victim.
He then allegedly sexually assaulted another 24-year-old woman at knifepoint while she was sleeping inside her apartment on 130th Street in Richmond Hill on Nov. 9, 1997. She was also taken to Jamaica Hospital for evidence collection.
DNA testing was not as sophisticated at the time, according to the Queens DA, but samples were stored in a state data bank known as the Combined DNA Index System, or "CODIS."
The Queens DA started a cold case initiative nearly two years ago after receiving federal grant money for the project and were able to match the CODIS sample Dupree had provide with samples from the rape kits.
"This case underscores the crucial importance of DNA evidence which is irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence,” Brown added.
Dupree faces up to 25 years on the rape charges. He was held without bail after his arraignment and is due back in court ton April 7.
Dupree's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.