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Effort to ease Houston's rape kit backlog pays off with arrest of suspect from 2004 attack

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A sexual assault victim from 2004 now knows her attacker is behind bars, thanks to a rape kit tested nearly a decade after the crime. The testing was funded by an initiative aimed at clearing a massive backlog of untested rape kits sitting in the Houston police property room.

We told you first Thursday about the first case that is being prosecuted as a result of the testing of those thousands of rape kits that sat here on shelves for so long. Now, we know more about that case.

Nine years ago, a man knocked on the door at this northwest Houston apartment and forced his way in when the woman inside opened. It was February 2004. The woman told police he raped her at knifepoint. In the years since, no one was ever charged.

"There were no leads on who the offender was," said Jane Waters with the Harris County District Attorney's Office Special Victims Bureau.

But earlier this year, thousands of rape kits that sat inside the Houston police property room for years, even decades, were sent out for forensic testing. Part of a multi-million dollar push to get rid of the backlog.

Tyrone Shjuan Taylor was identified from DNA in one of those cases. The first one to come back and be set for prosecution.

"It's our belief that it's important for these victims to get their opportunity to have their day in court and to know that the person who raped them or sexually assaulted them has been held accountable," Waters said.

Authorities say Taylor is serving a life sentence in prison for another rape from 2005. He committed that two months before the assault for which he's now charged. He was only connected to this case because his dna is in the system now because of that conviction.

Prosecutors say they expect more and more charges as sex assault kits are checked. Based on current estimates, they're looking at maybe 1,500 new cases that could soon warrant charges. After all this time, a conclusion possibly for so many who say they were so merilously violated.

"They've been validated in what happeend to them. I think it's important and I think it does help the vcitims," Waters said.

We found the woman who says she was raped in that 2004 case by Taylor. She did not wish to talk about it or the new charge agaisnt her alleged attacker.

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houston police department, local, kevin quinn
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