NEW YORK, Aug 3 (Reuters) - A Virginia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping a 16-year-old girl in Manhattan nearly 18 years ago, the latest conviction for the year-old cold-case unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Alberto Barriera, 47, is expected to receive 10 to 20 years in prison at his sentencing Aug. 17, the district attorney's office said.
According to court documents, the woman was attacked as she entered her apartment building on the Lower East Side on Dec. 18, 1993. The DNA from a rape kit taken after the assault was analyzed in 2002 and provided the basis for a "John Doe" grand jury indictment in 2003, preserving the case before the 10-year statute of limitations could apply.
John Doe indictments are typically used to link crimes to unknown individuals through DNA found at the scene. If that DNA is later matched to a suspect, the indictment will survive, even if the match occurs after the statute of limitations for the crime has passed.
The district attorney's office has identified 14 of the 56 John Does indicted since 2000.
Barriera's DNA was found to be a match after it was entered into the national databank last year following his conviction on felony drug possession in Virginia.
As he has repeatedly done, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance pointed to the case as evidence that the state's DNA-testing program for convicted defendants should be expanded to include all crimes, rather than just felonies and selected misdemeanors. Barriera was convicted of misdemeanors in 1999 and 2004, but state law did not allow his DNA to be collected.
"If New York State law had been amended to include DNA collection upon all convictions, this case would have been solved years earlier," Vance said in a statement.
Previous attempts to expand the DNA-testing law have failed to gain traction in Albany.
The cold case unit, which has linked several defendants to murders and rapes through DNA testing, is reexamining more than 3,000 unsolved killings.
The case is People v. Barriera, New York State Supreme Court, No. 06808/2003.
For the prosecution: Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford.
For Barriera: Ralph Cherchien.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)