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Attorney General Lockyer, Berkeley Police Chief Announce that State DNA Databank Links Suspect to 2001 Rape

Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Berkeley Police Chief D.E. Butler today announced that a "cold hit" made by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley has linked a suspect to the 2001 rape of a woman.

Ronald Odell Coleman, 46, was charged with the 2001 rape by the Alameda County District Attorney on January 22, 2002. Coleman, along with an accomplice, accosted a 46-year-old woman in the early morning hours of May 15, 2001. The two men dragged the victim into an unlocked school bathroom and forcibly raped and beat the victim. Coleman was linked to the rape when evidence from the crime scene was analyzed by the Attorney General's Berkeley DNA Laboratory and yielded a DNA profile that matched Coleman's DNA profile stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon data bank. This was the second "cold hit" for the Berkeley Police Department in just over one year. In 2000, Timothy Wyrick was identified in a vicious rape and robbery. Wyrick was convicted and received three life sentences.

"Through the joint efforts of the Berkeley Police Department and the Attorney General's Office, another dangerous criminal was taken off the streets before he could strike again," Lockyer said. "Our DNA data bank continues to be an important resource for solving crimes. Criminals must know that, regardless of when they committed the crime, we will bring them to justice."

Since 1983, California law has required blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sex and violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the Department of Justice Convicted Felon data bank. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to the profiles in the data bank, and a match in an unsolved case is considered a "cold hit." The local law enforcement agency and/or the local crime lab is notified about the identification and can then proceed appropriately with the information. More than 200,000 DNA profiles from convicted felons have been developed.

On January 1, 2002, a new statute went into effect adding four categories to the current list of nine violent felonies that qualify for mandatory inclusion in the state DOJ DNA data bank. Persons convicted of first degree robbery, residential burglary, arson and car-jacking, as well as attempts to commit these offenses, are now required to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the DOJ Convicted Felon data bank.

A total of 77 suspects have been identified by the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon data bank since it was established in 1994 and 56 of these "cold hits" have been made since January 1, 2001.

Please contact Lt. Cynthia Harris, Press Officer, for any questions regarding the Berkeley Police Department's investigation: (510) 981-5900.

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