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Man pleads guilty to 2002 Astoria rape

Jose Fuentes, of 30-72 37th St. in Maspeth, entered a guilty plea last Thursday to rape before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld, who indicated he would sentence the defendant to 25 years in prison on March 9, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.The September 2002 rape case is one of several Queens cold cases in which arrests have been recently made as the result of the city's DNA Databank. Brown said Fuentes' apprehension and successful prosecution were the result of a DNA sample obtained from the victim's rape kit that was positively matched to the defendant's DNA profile in the databank."Faced with conclusive and irrefutable scientific proof that established his guilt, the defendant had no choice but to accept his fate," Brown said. "The use of DNA is an important law enforcement tool that protects the innocent and punishes the guilty. I hope that the victim receives a measure of solace knowing that her attacker has now been convicted and faces a long prison sentence."According to the charges, Brown said, Fuentes raped and viciously beat the victim at the Astoria Laundromat where she worked on Sept. 1, 2002. The woman suffered substantial injuries to her face and bruising all over her body and she required lengthy hospitalization, Brown said.Fuentes was required to provide a DNA specimen to the New York State DNA Index System in 2004 as the result of an attempted robbery conviction, the DA said. In May 2003, Fuentes was arrested in a robbery at 85-05 Astoria Blvd. in East Elmhurst. He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to three years in jail, a spokeswoman for the DA's office said. His DNA sample from the robbery was later matched with a sample in the rape kit from the 2002 Astoria rape, the spokeswoman said. Fuentes was serving his sentence for the robbery when the sample was matched, the spokeswoman said.Several other arrests have been made in cases based on data from the DNA bank. A Ridgewood burglar was convicted in November and sentenced to 12 1/2 years to 25 years in prison for raping a 24-year-old woman at knifepoint in front of her then 2-year-old daughter in 1994. Hector Torres, 34, was arrested and indicted in July 2004 just two weeks before the statute of limitations in the case was to have expired. Torres' DNA from a 1995 robbery was matched with the July 2004 attack, the DA said.In late November, Fletcher A. Worrell, a 59-year-old Queens man, was sentenced to 15 1/2 years to 46 years in prison for a 1973 rape at knifepoint after a DNA sample from the victim's underwear was matched with his when he was arrested in Georgia for jumping bail from a separate trial, the DA said. Worrell has been linked to 21 other rapes in New Jersey and Maryland, the DA said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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