Facing DNA evidence, man pleads guilty to 1996 rape

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A cold hit DNA rape case from 1996 ended with a guilty plea, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Keith Quinton Haynes, 38, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty during a court hearing Thursday to first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was immediately sentenced to 117 months in prison.

“This was a particularly brutal crime and for many years it looked like it might not be solved,” Freeman said. “But the improving DNA technology allowed us to reach back in time and, with some excellent legal arguments by our prosecutor, we were able to get this conviction. We hope it will bring some peace to the family.”

On the evening of Nov. 6, 1996, an 82-year-old woman was walking her dog near Aldrich Avenue North when a man approached from behind and knocked her to the ground between two garages. He demanded money and when she told him she had none, he raped her.

She was taken to the hospital where the sexual assault resource nurse was able to recover some fluids during a vaginal swab. However, it was not until 2011 that a DNA profile was able to be developed from the swab and it was not until 2013 that a match was made to Haynes through the National DNA Index System.

Haynes was arrested in Milwaukee that year. During a pretrial hearing, Haynes’ attorney argued that everything the victim told the nurse at the hospital should be excluded from any trial as hearsay. However, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Cheri Townsend argued that it should be allowed in because the victim’s statements to the nurse were made for the purposes of her medical diagnosis and treatment. The judge agreed with Townsend and that was important because the victim died in 2008 at the age of 94.

During his guilty plea Thursday, Haynes apologized to the victim’s family.