Expanded New York DNA Databank Could Have Solved This Case 8 Years Ago
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the arrest and indictment of ALBERTO BARRIERA, 46, for the 1993 rape of a 16-year-old girl in her apartment building in downtown Manhattan. BARRIERA is charged with Rape in the First Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, and Burglary in the First Degree. Because his identity was unknown at the time, BARRIERA’s DNA profile was indicted as a “John Doe” case before the statute of limitations was about to expire. Seventeen years after the rape, the defendant’s DNA was collected after 2009 felony convictions for drug possession and transport in Virginia, and his profile matched this Manhattan sexual assault.
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of expanding the New York State DNA databank to include DNA collection upon conviction for all Penal Law crimes — felonies and misdemeanors, as this case starkly shows,” said District Attorney Vance. “DNA testing and forensic advancements are crucial in identifying suspects and solving cold cases, especially unsolved homicides and sexual assaults. DNA from all Penal Law convictions would keep predators off our streets, prevent violent crime, and bring justice for victims.”
According to documents filed in court and described in the court’s official record at the defendant’s arraignment today, on December 18, 1993, a young woman returning to her home on the Lower East Side was attacked as she entered her building. The assailant took money and jewelry from the victim, then violently choked and sexually assaulted her. Although she was treated at a hospital and a sexual assault evidence kit was prepared immediately after the crime, it was not analyzed until 2002, as part of the New York City Police Department’s Backlog Testing Program, and a DNA profile was developed. In 2003, a grand jury indicted that DNA profile, charging the as yet unknown assailant with Rape, Robbery, and Burglary in the First Degrees. By doing so, the District Attorney’s Office stopped the clock on the 10-year statute of limitations. On February 26, 2010, BARRIERA’s DNA profile was entered into the National DNA databank by the Commonwealth of Virginia following a felony drug possession conviction, and the profile was matched to this Manhattan case on March 16, 2010. Yesterday, BARRIERA was extradited from Virginia on these charges.
This case highlights how an expanded DNA databank, which includes DNA from all Penal Law convictions, would have helped solve this case years earlier. After the rape, BARRIERA was convicted in New York of misdemeanors in 1999 and 2004. Since DNA evidence from the 1993 rape case had been analyzed in 2002, if the defendant’s DNA had been eligible to be collected after his misdemeanor convictions and entered into the National DNA databank, justice for the victim could have been delivered eights years earlier.
DNA collection for 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 Attorney Martha Bashford, co-Chief of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, who is handling the prosecution. Investigator Edward Tacchi also assisted in this matter.
ALBERTO BARRIERA, D.O.B. 10/20/63
Virginia Beach, VA
• Rape in the First Degree, one count, a Class B felony
• Robbery in the First Degree, one count, a Class B felony
• Burglary in the First Degree, one count, a Class B felony
A class B felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.