Man charged in killing, rape

Sex offender strangled teen, authorities say

August 16, 2008|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun Reporter

Baltimore police have charged a 38-year-old registered sex offender with first-degree murder and rape in the February 2000 strangulation of a 19-year-old woman inside her Cherry Hill home, according to charging documents.

Rodney Elmore Joseph is accused of killing Chontrell Sample, who lived in the 2300 block of Round Road. Genetic material recovered from the woman's body matched a DNA sample taken from Joseph after a 2004 rape conviction, authorities said.

Joseph has been in the city jail since January, after being arrested for failing to change his address in the state sex offender database. His most recent residences include an apartment in Catonsville, an apartment in Edgewood and a public housing complex in Northeast Baltimore, according to court records.

He is being held without bail in the Sample case.

On Feb. 12, 2000, police found Sample inside her locked apartment, her hands tied behind her back and her ankles bound, according to charging documents. Police submitted evidence from her body to the state DNA database. On Feb. 23, 2007, Maryland State Police told city police that the evidence had matched Joseph's DNA profile.

Asked about the 18-month gap between the database hit and Joseph's arrest, police spokesman Sterling Clifford said police "needed to gather more evidence."

Joseph's criminal record shows a 20-year history of rape allegations.

In 1987, he was charged in District Court with several counts of rape and sexual abuse. He was 17 at the time. There is no Baltimore Circuit Court record of that case; it is possible that it was moved to juvenile court, where records are private.

In 2003, he was again charged with rape, this time accused of sexually assaulting a relative with severe mental disabilities, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in January 2004 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with all but five suspended.

Assistant State's Attorney Katherine Moxley said she struck the plea deal, with the family's approval, to protect the victim from the ordeal of testifying at a trial. Joseph was released from prison in September 2006. Although he initially registered as a sex offender, he failed to submit updated information to the registry.

In a violation-of-probation hearing Tuesday, Judge John C. Themelis revoked Joseph's probation and sentenced him to serve the 15 years he had previously suspended. No mention was made of the new allegations. The next day, police served Joseph with an arrest warrant in the Sample case.

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