Case Unresolved for 6 Years, Solved 3 Days after DNA Collection
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of CURTIS TUCKER, 46, to 15 years in prison for the vicious assault of a 15-year-old as she attempted to exit her apartment building in 2004. Although the defendant was not apprehended after the attack, his DNA was recovered from evidence at the scene, and was indicted as a "John Doe" case in January 2007. Following TUCKER's 2010 conviction for the unrelated burglary and assault of a 74-year-old man, his DNA was collected and added to the state's DNA databank, where it matched the attempted rape case. On April 21, 2010, the defendant pleaded guilty to Robbery in the First Degree and Attempted Rape in the First Degree.
“DNA evidence solves crimes, and today’s sentence brings a small measure of justice to a young woman who was introduced to our criminal justice system far too early in her life,” said District Attorney Vance. “This case went unsolved for seven years, and took just three days to solve once the defendant’s DNA was uploaded to New York’s DNA databank. If the law had been corrected to include DNA collection upon all convictions, this case would have been solved years earlier, as this defendant was prosecuted for multiple additional crimes after the attempted rape. I urge our state lawmakers to correct the flaws in the DNA law to help us solve and prevent these calculated and vicious crimes.”
On March 1, 2004, the victim was attacked by TUCKER as she attempted to get off the elevator on the 32nd floor of her Harlem apartment building, just one day after her birthday. TUCKER choked her several times and violently seized her money and student MetroCard. The victim fought back, falling with the defendant down three flights of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, TUCKER attempted to rape her. Finally, she pulled free, left with permanent facial injuries.
Police officers recovered the victim’s MetroCard and TUCKER’s eyeglasses from the crime scene. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s DNA laboratory developed a matching male DNA profile from the pieces of evidence. When that male DNA profile was uploaded to the New York State Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) databank, there was no match to any individual in the convicted offender databank.
Assistant District Attorneys presented the case to the Grand Jury in 2007 and obtained a “John Doe” DNA indictment against the assailant. A DNA indictment identifies the perpetrator by his unique DNA profile instead of his name, thereby ensuring that the statute of limitations does not expire on the case. The case remained unsolved until September 2, 2010, when the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services entered TUCKER’s DNA sample into CODIS following his 2010 conviction for a burglary in Harlem. In October 2010, he was arraigned on the “John Doe” indictment from the 2004 attack.
Until the burglary conviction, none of the defendant’s prior criminal convictions were eligible for DNA collection upon conviction. Currently, only 46 percent of Penal Law crimes are eligible for DNA collection. Seventy percent of misdemeanor crimes, including misdemeanor drug and weapon possession, are not.
TUCKER’s sentence for the attempted rape will run consecutively with his current 5 1/2-year state prison sentence for his 2010 conviction of Burglary in the Second Degree. He was also convicted of felony attempted robbery in 1985 and felony criminal contempt in 1997, but they were not then eligible offenses for DNA collection. Over the past 10 years, TUCKER has also been convicted of misdemeanor aggravated harassment, misdemeanor criminal contempt, and misdemeanor weapons possession, but these convictions were not and are still not eligible for DNA collection.
DNA collection for all felony convictions began in New York State in 2006. As of August 2010, the state currently has 367,633 samples collected upon conviction in its database, and 32,718 forensic samples taken from crime scenes. This has solved or aided in the investigation of more than 10,201 crimes - leaving more than 22,000 DNA samples collected at crimes scenes without a match.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorneys Melissa Mourges and Martha Bashford, Co-Chiefs of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, who are handling the prosecution of this case. Assistant District Attorney Andrew Warshawer oversaw the prosecution for the felony burglary case for which the defendant is already convicted. The investigation was supervised by Trial Division Chief Karen Friedman Agnifilo and Trial Division Deputy Chief John Irwin. District Attorney Vance also thanked the NYPD Manhattan Special Victims Squad.
CURTIS TUCKER, D.O.B. 10/01/1964
• Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
• Attempted Rape in the First Degree, a class C felony, one count
• 15 years in state prison
• 5 years post release supervision
• Sex offender registration