FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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Convicted Sex Offender Found Guilty of Abducting
And Raping 16-Year-Old Girl in 2000 Attack
- DNA Linked Defendant to the Crime -
WASHINGTON - Lawrence Gibson, 42, of Washington D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of one count of kidnaping and two counts of first degree sexual abuse after DNA and other evidence linked him to the abduction and rape of a 16-year-old girl that took place nearly 12 years ago, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
The verdict followed a four-day trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Thomas J. Motley scheduled sentencing for February 29, 2012. Gibson faces a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release after Judge Motley found that the government also proved the aggravating circumstance that Gibson has been found guilty of committing sex offenses against two or more victims by a court of the District of Columbia. In 2001, Gibson was convicted of an unrelated felony sex offense.
“This case demonstrates the power of DNA to prevent dangerous criminals from escaping justice,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “More than a decade after he brutally raped a teenage girl, this criminal was identified, prosecuted, and found guilty of this terrible assault. His conviction today should strike fear in the hearts of other rapists who think they have gotten away with similar sexual assaults.”
According to the government’s evidence, at about 10:30 p.m. on February 21, 2000, the 16-year-old victim was on her way to a friend’s house. She was in the 5000 block of Benning Road SE when Gibson, a stranger to her, pulled up next to her in his car and asked where she was going. The victim replied, “Same place I was going before you stopped me.” She continued on her way while Gibson drove off. A few moments later, however, Gibson turned his car around and drove back to the victim, who by then was in the 4900 block of Benning Road.
Gibson grabbed the teenager by the hair, held a cold object to her head that she believed to be a gun, and forced her into his car. She slid in the already reclined passenger seat, and tried to get out of the passenger door, but it would not open. Gibson then got into the car after her, struck her in the face with an open hand, and drove her the short distance to a dark parking lot behind the 5400 block of Call Place SE. According to the victim’s testimony, she prayed for God to help her, and Gibson replied back to her prayers, “God can’t help you.”
During the trial, the victim testified that after Gibson parked in one of the back spots, she heard the sound of a blade click open on a knife. Despite her pleas not to rape her, Gibson got on top of her in the passenger seat, pulled at her tights, and raped her. Gibson then demanded that she engage in another sexual act, and when she told him he would have to kill her, Gibson struck her in the face before sexually assaulting her again.
After the attack, Gibson threw the victim out of the car and sped off. The victim was found moments later, walking between buildings, by someone who lived in the apartment complex in front of the parking lot. She was disoriented, crying, and her clothing was torn. She kept muttering to herself, “How could this have happened, how could he have done that to me.?”
The police responded and took the victim’s statement about what had just happened and also obtained her description of her attacker. She was transported to D.C. General Hospital, where she was treated for injuries and a sexual assault examination was done.
In 2006, the victim’s sexual assault kit was sent to a DNA lab for analysis, which confirmed that there was a major male DNA contributor in the sperm fraction on swabs taken from the victim. In March 2011 – 11 years after the assault – members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) received an investigative lead that led them to Gibson as the man who had kidnaped and raped the victim. A DNA sample was obtained from Gibson and compared to the swabs from the victim’s sexual assault exam, and it came back a match.
As the victim testified about the horrible experience almost 12 years ago, she emotionally told the members of the jury that her only thought that night was on how to survive.
In announcing the jury’s verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the outstanding work of those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department, including Detectives Karen Zibrat and Alexander Mac Bean, Sergeants John McDonald and Norman Frost, and Mobile Crime Technicians Edward Wise, John Holder, and George Klein. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Donhue Griffith, Legal Assistant Tanisha Nelson, the Intelligence Unit, the Litigation Technology Unit, and Victim Witness Advocate Veronica Vaughan. Finally, he praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Taylor and Karen Shinskie, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Suttenberg, who prosecuted the case.