Indictment handed up after prosecutors proclaim DNA match in 13-year-old case

Convicted sex offender charged in Arundel rape

September 22, 2001|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Based exclusively on what prosecutors say was a genetic match in a Maryland State Police DNA databank, an Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted yesterday a convicted sex offender in a 13-year-old rape case.

"Within the Maryland database, that's the first time we matched to a cold case," said the lab's director, Louis Portis.

He said the databank, which contains DNA samples from 5,000 offenders, is expected to have DNA from 10,000 by year's end. An application for a federal grant for examining cold cases is in the works, he said.

"We are rapidly building, and we expect many more," he said.

Revisiting cold cases

Anne Arundel County police, who have been revisiting unsolved cases using DNA, sent a DNA sample to the state police lab, which officially opened last year. Last month, police heard back, said Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office.

The grand jury indicted Robert Marshall Eiseman, 41, on a charge of second-degree rape and five related charges stemming from the rape of a 22-year-old Cape St. Claire woman who was attacked about 2:30 a.m. Dec. 1, 1988, as she returned home from work at a Parole bar.

Neither Portis nor prosecutors would discuss details of the case.

News reports at the time of the incident said the woman was attacked first in her front yard and again under the porch of her home.

Police first suspected another man, who was charged in another case.

The two cases were among five sexual assaults that occurred between October and mid-December 1988 in five neighborhoods. Police theorized that the attacks were attributable to two men, according to news reports at the time.

Prison officials said records show Eiseman has been serving a 20-year sentence for rape and attempted murder since 1989 after being convicted in Montgomery County. He is at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown.

`Expect more of this'

"As technology advances, you can expect more of this," said John H. Robinson III, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney. He said DNA can be an effective prosecution tool, but also can exonerate defendants. Defense lawyers look for contamination and improper laboratory procedures in preparing their cases.

Last year, Gary William Pescrillo, 44, became the first person charged with a sex crime in Maryland based solely on a "hit" from a national DNA computer database. Pescrillo, who lives in Chicago, faces charges of sexual assault and burglary in an attack that occurred in Linthicum on June 28, 1989.

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