A Jackson County jury Thursday used DNA evidence collected almost 24 years ago to convict an Overland Park man of rape and other sexual assault charges.
Maurice Webber was charged last year with three counts of forcible rape, three counts of forcible sodomy and one count of attempted forcible sodomy. The jury found him guilty on all counts.
A DNA sample taken after a 2013 traffic stop had linked Webber to a 1991 sexual assault of a 17-year-old high school girl in Swope Park, prosecutors had said. He would have been 19 years old at the time.
This week, 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.
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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.
Carl Bussey, Webber’s defense attorney, criticized how the victim couldn’t recall some of the details from that night.
“She doesn’t remember who removed her from her car,” Bussey told jurors. “Do you know how important that evidence is? But she doesn’t remember that.”
Assistant Jackson County prosecutor Lauren Barrett told jurors that the victim’s story from that night is consistent with the DNA evidence.
“The relevant crime scene is (the victim’s) body,” she said.
According to court documents, investigators collected evidence after the 1991 rape and stored it at the Kansas City Crime Lab.
In 2004, analysts developed DNA profiles of three men from genetic material recovered from the victim’s body and clothing. The results were entered into a nationwide computer database. No matches had been found until a DNA sample obtained from Webber after a 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 also was driving despite having a suspended license.
Officers arrested him and searched his car. They discovered marijuana, which Webber admitted that 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. Only one in 63 quadrillion unrelated people would have that DNA sequence, according to court documents.
According to an online profile, Webber owned two businesses, including one that developed and marketed websites. He served four years in the Marines and worked 14 years in information technology, according to the profile.
The jury will return Monday to consider a sentencing recommendation, and Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell will sentence Webber at a later date.