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January 10, 2003

DNA testing confirms guilt of Canadian convicted rapist in St. Louis

From: Canoe News, Canada - 10 Jan 2003


ST. LOUIS (AP) - DNA testing has confirmed that a Canadian citizen committed the St. Louis rape for which he has spent the past 16 years in prison, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said Friday.

The lab test indicated that semen found at the scene was that of Kenneth Charron, 51, of Hamilton. He is serving life plus two 30-year terms at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, Mo. Joyce said there was a one in 100 billion chance the DNA results were wrong.

"The test results resoundingly confirm Mr. Charron's guilt," Joyce said. "Mr. Charron is a rapist, and as we see today, he is also a liar."

For years, Charron had claimed he was not involved in the break-in at the home of a 59-year-old deaf woman and her 79-year-old mother in 1985. Charron was convicted of robbery and of raping the younger woman. A second man was convicted in the robbery, but not rape, and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Joyce originally appealed a judge's August order for DNA testing of Charron, believing results would be inconclusive, but relented in November after a request from the Canadian government. A group of Canadian citizens agreed to pay the $1,600 US cost.

Testing has also been sought by the New York-based Innocence Project, a group that advocates post-conviction DNA testing for inmates who claim innocence.

"It's always disappointing when you believe in somebody, and you have a test result come back that confirms guilt," Innocence Project lawyer Vanessa Potkin said. "But the whole beauty of DNA testing is it cuts to the truth. Even if you get a guilty result, it brings closure to the case, to society."

Charron grew up in Hamilton and Toronto. After a stay with an uncle in Texas, he came to St. Louis in 1985.

Joyce said the rape victim picked Charron out of a lineup. A biologist's testimony linked Charron's blood type to semen used as evidence, but the crime occurred before DNA testing, which has become common only in the last decade.

A Missouri law, effective August 2001, lets convicted rapists seek new DNA tests if the technology wasn't available at the time of their trial.

In July, Larry Johnson of St. Louis was freed after serving 18 years for a 1984 rape that DNA tests showed he didn't commit. Over the past 18 months, DNA tests have confirmed the guilt of two other men convicted of rapes in St. Louis.

Joyce's office has been reviewing about 1,400 old cases of rape, murder and assault to pinpoint where new DNA tests might be warranted.

Testing has been ordered for two other convicted rapists, though Joyce is appealing on grounds the results would be inconclusive.

Joyce said the reopening of the Charron case was difficult for the victim.

"He (Charron) has re-victimized her," Joyce said. "He has rubbed salt in her wound, and he should be ashamed of what he has done."

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