Man convicted in cold case rape faces second trial
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
Justice is finally served more than 40 years after the rape of a teenage babysitter in Boca Raton.
On Monday, a jury found 71-year old John MacLean guilty of the armed rape of the 15-year old female back in 1976.
During the trial, jurors heard from the victim, who’s now 56. Investigators used a bodily fluid stain from her jeans to get DNA and match it to MacLean.
While MacLean showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was read, a woman sitting in the gallery shed tears of relief, joy and sadness.
“Everything that was said in court was like I was reliving it,” said the woman, who CBS12 is not identifying.
The woman was not the victim in the case on trial, but she has a connection.
“I was a victim, 1974,” she said.
The woman was 16 at the time, raped at gunpoint along with two friends in Boca Raton. Authorities say the facts of her case mirror those of the one at trial.
“It’s very emotional for me,” she said. “I’m just really happy that he’s been... found guilty, and I hope he gets life.”
MacLean does face up to life in prison. There’s no date set yet for MacLean’s sentencing.
He also has another case pending for a 1977 rape.
As for the woman in court for the verdict, prosecutors were not able to pursue her case because of the statute of limitations in place at the time.
The statute of limitations changed, allowing law enforcement to file charges in the other cases.
In the trial just completed, the defense claimed the DNA evidence was compromised.
Investigators had kept the cutting from the victim’s jeans for potentially years in a box in close proximity to evidence from other cases, creating the potential for a cross transfer of evidence, the defense said.
“That DNA evidence is just as powerful as a fingerprint,” said Stuart Kaplan, Palm Beach Gardens-based attorney and former FBI agent.
Kaplan said even if there were a transfer or contamination of evidence, it wouldn’t change the fact MacLean was the major source of the DNA in the stain on the jeans.
“It’s like that fingerprint, it’s all you need,” Kaplan said. “There is really no way to explain it.”