Roger Dale Honeycutt was convicted Friday of raping two Charlotte women more than three decades ago. The 62-year-old Kannapolis man was sentenced to a minimum of 60 years in prison, and a maximum of 140 years.
The jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Honeycutt guilty of the 1981 sexual assaults. He was convicted on two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of second-degree sexual offense and two counts of first-degree burglary.
Its been said that justice delayed is justice denied, Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell said before sentencing Honeycutt. The jury for these victims has said that is not the case.
Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Barry Cook told the reporters that Honeycutts conviction was gratifying.
Im looking forward to going back to the office and making phone calls to the families of the victims, the prosecutor said.
The defense rested its case earlier Friday without presenting any evidence or calling Honeycutt to the witness stand.
Three decades after the crimes, police obtained DNA linking Honeycutt to both sexual assaults. During closing arguments Friday, Cook spent much of his time talking to the jurors about the DNA evidence. He called it accepted science.
I submit to you that DNA evidence is inherently reliable, the prosecutor said.
Cook also told jurors that DNA evidence has been used to free people who have been wrongly convicted.
The prosecutor said the DNA showed that Honeycutt was connected to the crimes.
It is all about the science all about the numbers, Cook told the jurors.
A forensic DNA analyst testified Thursday that DNA from the two rape kits matched Honeycutts DNA profile.
And Cook reminded the jurors of the analysts findings: Theres a one in 36 billion chance that the DNA in one of the rapes belonged to someone other than Honeycutt. And theres a 1 in 16 million chance the DNA in the other rape belonged to someone other than Honeycutt.
The result is the same, Cook said. The result is Roger Honeycutt.
But defense attorney Bill Soukup told jurors his client didnt commit the crimes. He said the only evidence linking Honeycutt to the rapes was partial DNA profiles.
Soukup argued that the DNA evidence had degraded since the incidents 32 years ago. He talked about the DNA numbers, calling them impressive and dazzling.
But I dont know if theyre very illuminating, he told the jurors.
Soukup also argued there wasnt any evidence showing Honeycutt was in Charlotte in 1981.
The defense lawyer told jurors theres no question the two women had been raped.
Theyre entitled to justice, Soukup said of the rape victims. But Roger Honeycutt is entitled to justice, too.
The two women Honeycutt was convicted of raping both took the witness stand during the trial. Neither victim identified Honeycutt as the assailant.
One victim was 23 years old and five months pregnant when the sexual assault took place in 1981. She testified that her attacker told her not to scream and she wouldnt be hurt.
Now 55 years old, she told jurors how she pleaded with her attacker.
Im pregnant. Please dont hurt my baby" she recalled telling the man.
She also recalled what that the rapist said as he left her apartment after the attack: Dont forget to lock the door behind me.
The other victim, who was 26 years old when she was raped, testified that her attacker told her not to look at him. She also recalled the man telling her not to scream and she wouldnt be hurt.
But the woman, now 58, said she couldnt believe that her attacker wouldnt harm her. It occurred to me that this might be the end, she said.
She too recalled what the man said as he left after the sexual assault.
He told me to go back to sleep and pretend it never happened, she said.