Tuesday, June 23, 2009
DNA brings arrest in 1991 Rape of Pocomoke Woman :Cold Case:
A New York man has been charged with the rape of a Pocomoke City woman after a DNA sample taken from the crime scene 18 years ago matched his own.
The Worcester County Bureau of investigation has accused Leslie Maize, now 67, with first- and second-degree rape, assault with the intent to rape and first-degree burglary in the 1991 crime. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to investigators, early in the morning of May 10, 1991, Maize allegedly broke into a Pocomoke City apartment and sexually assaulted the woman who lived there alone. He was armed at the time.
The case went cold until recently when evidence taken from the scene was submitted to the National DNA Index System, which linked Maize to the incident.
"It's always good to close a case like that even if it takes time," said Pocomoke City Mayor Michael McDermott. "Sometimes justice is a little slow, but it does work out in the end."
McDermott, who is also a lieutenant in the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, said the DNA was likely taken from bodily fluids found on a garment or cloth. While DNA matching wasn't available at the time of the crime, McDermott said "good policing" meant evidence was well-preserved.
"The fact that they collected the DNA back then and were able to hold on to it is incredible," he said. "I don't think anybody had any idea that back then that someday there might be a DNA database that matches things up like this."
Despite the positive match, it may be some time until the case goes to trial in Worcester County. Maize is currently four years into a 6- to 12-year prison sentence at the Gowanda Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
According to Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Correctional Services, in February 2005, Maize pleaded guilty to the first-degree rape of a 45-year-old Long Island woman in 1993. His sentence, which includes sex offender counseling and treatment for drug use, ends in September 2014. If granted parole, Maize could be out in September 2010. While this is his only rape charge in New York, Foglia said there could be more.
"According to authorities, there were three other positive DNA matches to rapes that Maize is believed to have committed in New York City in the early 1990s," she said. He was never prosecuted for these cases because "there was a statute of limitations that precluded filing criminal charges in those cases."
This is the fourth sentence Maize has served in a New York correctional facility, according to state records. He spent two years in the late 1970s incarcerated on burglary and violating bail charges. In 1980, about a year after being released from prison the first time, he was sentenced to five years for breaking into a residence.
In 1994, Maize was convicted of second-degree assault and weapons possession after attacking a police officer, hitting him with a loaded gun. He was released in September 1999, but returned to jail in August 2001 for violating parole.
Once his current sentence is complete, Maize will be extradited to Worcester County to face charges. If found guilty of first-degree rape, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.