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Twin convicted in third trial on rape charge

A rape suspect who won two mistrials because DNA evidence could have come from him or his twin brother was convicted Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A rape suspect who twice won mistrials because key DNA evidence could have come from either him or his twin brother was convicted Wednesday in his third trial.

Darrin Fernandez, 31, was convicted in an April 2001 attack on a Boston woman who said she was repeatedly raped by a man who climbed up a fire escape and broke into her second-floor bedroom while she slept.

Jurors in the previous trials deadlocked, saying afterward that they were unable to agree on whether Fernandez was guilty because DNA from semen found on the woman’s pillowcase could have come from either him or his identical twin.

During the third trial, prosecutors urged jurors to consider a “pattern of behavior” they said would distinguish Fernandez from his brother.

Prosecutors introduced evidence they said showed Fernandez committed a series of home break-ins, sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults with characteristics similar to the rape in 2001.

He is currently serving a 10- to 15-year prison sentence for a rape in 2000, in which prosecutors said Fernandez climbed on two trash barrels he had stacked under the victim’s living room window and attacked her as she slept on a couch.

Both victims testified that the man who attacked them engaged in sweet talk or sexual banter as if he was a boyfriend.

Fernandez was charged in both rapes after he was arrested in July 2001 while allegedly trying to break into an apartment. Police matched the DNA in blood found on broken glass at the scene to DNA in semen from the two rapes.

‘He’s not going anywhere’
Prosecutors did not seek to introduce details of the August 2000 rape during Fernandez’ two previous trials on the 2001 rape, saying they didn’t want to put that victim through the trauma of testifying again, but they did call her for the third trial. The 27-year-old woman was in court Wednesday and sobbed as the verdict was read.

“There was no doubt he was guilty,” she said, asking to not be identified. “It was disgusting that he got off — disgusting. Now, he’s not going anywhere.”

Prosecutor David Deakin said her testimony was vital.

“The addition of her testimony allowed the jury to see that these two crimes were so similar that the same individual must have committed both crimes,” Deakin said.

Fernandez’s lawyer, Robert Zanello, did not immediately comment after the verdict.

The jury found Fernandez guilty of three counts of rape, and several other charges related to the attack. Sentencing is set for March 31; he could face a maximum of life in prison.