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Suffolk County DA: New DNA technology triggers rape case breakthrough

New DNA technology is being heralded as instrumental in a court case connected to pair of decade-old rapes, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

handcuffs New technology successfully differentiated the DNA of two brothers in a pair of decade-old sexual assaults.
Credit: Metro file photo

New DNA technology is being heralded as instrumental in a court case connected to pair of decade-old rapes, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

The technology, in fact, implicated one twin brother and excluded another in two abductions and sexual assaults that occurred in the fall of 2004, according to the DA.

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Dwayne McNair, 33, of Dedham, was arraigned yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court on eight counts of aggravated rape and two counts of armed robbery for two separate attacks on women in September 2004.

McNair had been indicted for those crimes in 2012, but prosecutors were forced to withdraw the case this spring and seek newly available DNA testing known as second-generation genome mapping to differentiate between him and his twin "with whom he shares virtually a single genetic profile" said the DA's office.

Forensic evidence implicated McNair, but also matched his brother's DNA profile. The testing available at the time couldn't differentiate between the two, according to the DA.

Prosecutors say on Sept. 21, 2004 McNair and a second man, Anwar Thomas, now 32, abducted a woman who was walking alone in the Forest Hills area at gunpoint, pistol-whipped her, and drove her to a remote location where the men sexually assaulted and robbed her.

Nine days later, on Sept. 29, authorities say the men again abducted a woman walking alone at night, this time from the area of Parker and Hillside streets in Roxbury. The victim was forced into a vehicle, struck several times in the face with a gun, and sexually assaulted. Her cell phone, wallet, and her ID were also stolen during the attack.

Thomas ultimately pleaded guilty to both assaults and is currently serving a lengthy state prison sentence, according to the DA.

The victim in this latter attack had the presence of mind to take a condom that one of the men had used and discarded. Boston Police were able to retrieve DNA from the condom and other items.

However, shortly before McNair was scheduled to go to trial this spring, prosecutors learned of the new technology and temporarily withdrew the case so the testing could go forward. They received the test results on Sept. 5, which showed McNair was "2 billion times more likely to have been the source of the DNA than his brother," according to the DA, and the grand jury returned the new indictments that same day.

“The forensic application of this testing is new, and to the best of our knowledge our case will be the first prosecution to use it,” said Conley, the Suffolk County DA, through a statement. “The scientific foundation, on the other hand, is well-understood and widely-accepted. We look forward to the chance to demonstrate as much for the court.”

McNair is being held on $500,000 bail and is next due in court on Oct. 29.

 
 
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