An Annapolis man who admitted raping a woman under a parked tractor-trailer in a Parole shopping center was sentenced yesterday to 19 years in prison.
Tracy Wright, 29, of the 2000 block of Generals Highway, had faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree rape in January in county Circuit Court. In exchange for that guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of first-degree rape - which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison - and armed robbery.
Sentencing guidelines showed Wright should be sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison for the rape. Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. ordered Wright's sentence to run concurrent to any other sentence he may be serving.
At about 4 a.m. Sept. 15, 1988, Wright robbed and raped a 22--year-old woman working as a night clerk at the Econo Lodge in the Parole Plaza on Riva Road, according to court records and Assistant State's Attorney Ronald M. Naditch. Naditch said Wright twice raped the woman at knifepoint, first in some bushes behind the hotel and then beneath a tractor-trailer parked at the Parole Plaza shopping center.
Three months after the incident, police closed the case without an arrest. The investigation was reopened, however after Wright was arrested in April 1989 for robbing a woman at knifepoint in a parking-lot near the hotel.
Naditch said tests conducted by a private laboratory concluded that DNA recovered from semen on the woman's underpants matched Wright's genetic makeup - a result with only a one in 24 million chance of error.
Wright, a former trash collector, is serving a three-year sentence for the April 1989 armed robbery.
In August, Wright and a defendant in a separate case argued that Maryland's law allowing DNA test results into evidence is unconstitutionally vague because it fails to list standards for reliable testing procedures for testing laboratories. Judge Goudy upheld the constitutionally of the state law.
DNA testing, in which a person's genetic makeup is graphically represented as a "fingerprint" similar to a supermarket universal bar code, has been hailed as a test of unparalleled accuracy.
Wright dropped his challenge to the DNA test and settled on a guilty plea because the state's case, which included a victim's positive identification of the defendant, was "extremely strong" even without test results, defense attorney Charles M. Carison said in January.