A judge on Wednesday sentenced an Overland Park man to 34 years in prison for his role in a 1991 rape.
A Jackson County jury in May had convicted Maurice Webber, 43, of rape and other sexual assault charges based on DNA evidence collected almost 24 years ago.
Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell, estimating that sexual offenders often serve about 72 percent of their sentence before being considered eligible for parole, said Webber would serve about 24 years.
That’s how many years jury members had recommended that Webber serve, said assistant Jackson County prosecutor Lauren Barrett.
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The victim, who had testified during Webber’s trial in May, said she was satisfied with the sentence.
“I feel kind of numb,” she said after the hearing, “but very grateful.”
A DNA sample taken after a 2013 traffic stop linked Webber to a 1991 sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl in Swope Park, prosecutors said. He would have been 19 years old at the time.
During the trial, the victim told jurors how she had been drinking and was driving home from a concert when she pulled over in a parking lot near 94th Street and Newton Avenue to sleep.
When she awoke, she said, she was in the back seat of a different car. Four unknown men, she said, took her to Swope Park, where three of the men sexually assaulted her. The victim reported the assault on Sept. 2, 1991.
In 2004, analysts developed DNA profiles of three men from genetic material recovered from the victim’s body and clothing in 1991. No matches had been found until a DNA sample obtained from Webber after the 2013 arrest in Overland Park registered as a match.
According to records in Johnson County, Webber had been driving in August 2013 near Interstate 435 and Roe Avenue when an Overland Park police officer noticed a problem with a temporary license tag on his vehicle. The officers determined that the tag was phony and that Webber — a Marine Corps veteran and an information technology specialist — was driving on a suspended license.
Officers arrested him and searched his car. They discovered marijuana, which Webber admitted he was selling, according to court documents. That November, Johnson County prosecutors filed felony drug charges against Webber.
Under Kansas law, when people arrested on felony charges are booked into jail, a DNA sample and fingerprints are collected. Lab analysts develop a DNA profile and enter it into the national database.
The following February, the Kansas City Crime Lab notified cold-case sex crime detectives about the DNA match. Prosecutors charged Webber with three counts of forcible rape, three counts of forcible sodomy and one count of attempted forcible sodomy.
A jury convicted Webber on all seven counts.
Defense attorney Carl Bussey asked Powell on Wednesday to consider probation, adding that the evidence didn’t tell a complete story of what happened that night.
“For the past 24 years, he conducted himself in a lawful manner,” Bussey added.
But Barrett said that Webber “had run from this crime for 24 years.” In contrast, she said, the victim for the same amount of time had worked with law enforcement authorities investigating the case.
“And right here in this courtroom, she is seeking justice,” Barrett said.
Three character witnesses, including Webber’s mother, Pauline Robinson, described all the people Webber has helped during his life.
Webber also addressed Powell.
“I’m not sure what all to say,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
Webber said he will pray that the victim “will get past what happened to her.”
Powell told Webber he considered him a candidate for rehabilitation.
But he added: “Our community, our society, demands punishment for crime. A severe, awful and horrendous crime deserves much more.”
The Star's Tony Rizzo contributed to this report.