17-Year-Old Cold Case Solved in 2010 by Out-of-State DNA Match

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of ALBERTO BARRIERA, 47, for the 1993 rape of a 16-year-old girl in her apartment building in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. BARRIERA pled guilty to Rape in the First Degree and is expected to be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison on August 17, 2011. Because his identity was unknown at the time, BARRIERA’s DNA profile was indicted as a “John Doe” case before the 10-year statute of limitations expired. Seventeen years after the rape, the defendant’s DNA was collected after 2009 felony convictions for drug possession and transport in Virginia, and his profile matched this Manhattan sexual assault.

“The victim waited for justice for more than 17 years, and today it was delivered,” said District Attorney Vance. “Today’s conviction demonstrates that DNA evidence solves crimes. Using cutting-edge forensic technology, the Office was able to file charges against this defendant before the statute of limitations expired—despite not knowing the identity of the defendant—and bring a violent sex offender to justice nearly two decades later. If New York State law had been amended to include DNA collection upon all convictions, this case would have been solved years earlier. It is our hope that today’s conviction brings a measure of closure to the woman who survived this attack, and assurance to victims still waiting that we will pursue these cases for as long as it takes to bring justice.”
According to documents filed in court and described in the court’s official record at the defendant’s arraignment, on December 18, 1993, a young woman returning to her home on the Lower East Side was attacked as she entered her building. The assailant took money and jewelry from the victim, then violently choked and sexually assaulted her. Although a sexual assault evidence kit was prepared immediately after the crime, it was not analyzed until 2002, as part of the New York City Police Department’s Backlog Testing Program, and a DNA profile was developed. In 2003, a grand jury indicted that DNA profile, charging the as yet unknown assailant with the crime. By doing so, the District Attorney’s Office stopped the clock on the statute of limitations.

On February 26, 2010, BARRIERA’s DNA profile was entered into the National DNA databank by the Commonwealth of Virginia following a felony drug possession conviction, and the profile was matched to this Manhattan case on March 16, 2010. BARRIERA was extradited from Virginia to New York and arraigned on September 20, 2010.

This case highlights once again how an expanded DNA databank, which would include DNA from all Penal Law convictions, would have helped solve this case years earlier. After the rape, BARRIERA was convicted in New York of misdemeanors in 1999 and 2004. Since DNA evidence from the 1993 rape case had been analyzed in 2002, if the defendant’s DNA had been eligible to be collected after his misdemeanor convictions and entered into the National DNA databank, justice for the victim could have been delivered eight years earlier. Currently, only Penal Law felonies and some misdemeanors are eligible for post-conviction collection.
Defendants have been identified through DNA evidence in 14 out of the 56 “John Doe” indictments the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has filed since 2000. District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford, Acting Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit and co-Chief of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, who prosecuted the case. Assistant District Attorney Francesca Liquori assisted with this case, as did Investigator Edward Tacchi.

Defendant Information:

Virginia Beach, VA


Rape in the First Degree, one count, a Class B felony