DNA from dog feces helps convict rapist

December 12, 2008 2:25:07 PM PST
A Texas Panhandle man was convicted of rape and sentenced to three life terms in prison after tests showed dog feces found on a man's shirt matched DNA from the victim's pet. Prosecutors presented DNA evidence from the rape as well, but said the dog DNA found on the shirt of Rufus Sito Nanez III bolstered the case. He was convicted of a 2007 attack on a 27-year-old Dumas woman.

Police sent the fecal matter on Nanez's shirt, fecal matter from the woman's yard and saliva from her dog to a veterinary genetics lab in California, which matched DNA. DNA does not exist in fecal matter, but cells from the walls of colons attach themselves to waste material, prosecutor David Green said Friday.

Jurors on Wednesday found Nanez, a 34-year-old former meatpacker, guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault and a single count of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit a felony.

Nanez, who said he was innocent, will serve the life terms concurrently.

Prosecutors told jurors that Nanez waited for the woman's husband to leave home before breaking into her home and attacking her. The rape occurred in the backyard after the two tussled.

Nanez's sentence stemmed from jurors learning he had a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for felony burglary of a habitation and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

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