Interactive Radar: Track Storms

Rape Kit Testing Leads To Conviction In 2002 Rape Case

(Memphis) Thirty-two-year-old Jerald Jefferson was convicted Friday.

It took a jury 37 minutes to reach a verdict, but it took eight years before prosecutors had what they needed to seal the case.

DNA testing from a rape kit helped connect the dots, but it took a while for the rape kit to even be tested.

The 16-year-old victim was a student at Trezevant  High School when she told police she was abducted from campus by three men.

They forced her into  a car, put a pillowcase over her head, drove her to South Memphis, and raped her.

“She was taken to the sexual assault rape crisis center. A physical examination was done.  A kit was collected and that kit stayed on a shelf,” said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

It was two years before the kit was tested by a private lab through a TBI grant.

In 2010, Jefferson was arrested for aggravated assault and his DNA was entered into the system and there was a match.

Weirich says her office has no hand in the testing, but this case shows prosecutors can push vigorously once testing is done.

“There is no stone we won’t overturn to make sure we locate, apprehend and bring to justice those that commit sexual crimes in this community,” said Weirich.

Meaghan Yboi was raped in 2003 and has been pushing for rape cases to get serious attention.

Her kit went untested until 2012.

Her rapist pleaded guilty the next year.

“I am scared to death all of this is sending a message to people that it’s not worth it to report rape. So we have a lot of work to do in restoring the public’s faith,” said Yboi.

Memphis police have changed their policy on not testing rape kits, and Mayor Wharton has promised a regular update on untested kits, but last week he asked for a delay on the report, saying he wants to make sure the number is accurate.

It seems the number of untested kits could be much larger than first thought.

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