It was a chilly April night in 2001, and on the second floor of this house, a young woman unwound for bed as she usually did.
Her habit? A small dose of “Letterman” before drifting off to sleep.
Sara James, Dateline correspondent: How much of the show did you watch that night, do you remember?'Kate': Maybe 20 minutes or so.
Living with male and female roommates, the woman “Kate” didn’t worry much about security even though she lived in the heart of big-city Boston, in the blue-collar Dorchester section.
'Kate': It didn’t even cross my mind to be afraid. You know, you’re at home in the place that you would think would be the most safe.
But around midnight, she was startled awake by a nightmare—a man she’d never seen before, standing at the foot of her bed. And this nightmare was real.
'Kate': I started freaking out. I started asking him to leave, telling him to, trying to raise my voice so I could alert maybe my roommates to that, you know, there was someone in my room. And nobody heard me. James: Did you scream?'Kate': I was about to scream. And it was at that point that he actually raised his hand to me and said to me, “Do you want me to bleep you up?” James: You were afraid that he would kill you.'Kate': Yeah.
Kate didn’t know it at the time, but just eight months earlier and a few blocks away in Dorchester, there had been another violent sexual assault.
James:Were you afraid he was going to kill you?Jennifer Hogrell, other victim: Yes. I begged him not to kill me.
This woman, Jennifer, also had been watching television and had fallen asleep. A stranger crept through her window and raped her in her own living room.
James:What is it that brings tears to your eyes right now?Hogrell:Just the thought of trusting everybody in the neighborhood and knowing everybody. And then to have it happen.
This is a story about two rapes and one trial—a trial that would change four lives forever. When the case was finally over, it would tear apart two young men—once linked by the closest of bonds; while forging a life-long sisterhood between Kate and Jennifer—two determined yet decidedly different young women.
'Kate': I was wearing a night dress. And he started you know moving the night dress up on me. And ... sorry. It’s just very...James: It’s still hard to talk about.'Kate': It is. It’s very uncomfortable to talk about.
Kate isn’t her real name, but one she asked us to use. She says when she was interviewed by police in the early-morning hours after her attack, she couldn’t identify her rapist—other than to say he was a tall, thin light-skinned black man wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a baseball cap.
During her rape, semen, containing tell-tale DNA, got on her nightshirt. The rapist walked out with the nightshirt, the evidence ...
Prosecutor David Deakin: He knew that his semen could link him to the crime. He didn’t want that to happen.
But it turned out he missed some of the evidence. Police found semen on a pillowcase, and it turns out, it matched DNA recovered from that other rape—Jennifer’s rape—eight months before. Police now knew they were searching for a serial rapist.
But who was he? While police had tantalizing DNA, they didn’t know whose it was, because it didn’t match anyone in their computer system. Then, ten weeks after Kate’s rape, in July 2001, police caught a big break.
James: Were you aware of the unsolved rapes in Dorchester in 2000 and 2001?Corde Miller: Yes I was.
That Saturday night, a third Dorchester woman heard a rustling at her window and went outside to investigate.
Miller: And, at that point, I was out there, totally vulnerable.
Vulnerable because she was now face to face with a stranger—a stranger trying to climb through her window.
Miller: So, I said to him, “Get away from my windows and get off the property.”
The man ran away.
James: You thought you’d scared him off.Miller: Yeah.
But just an hour later—an unbelievable, terrifying moment—she saw that the stranger had returned, and once again was trying to jimmy her window.
Miller: He was determined to get into the house. So, I just grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
A caravan of police cars, blue lights flashing, arrived almost immediately, silhouetting the man still at her window.
Miller: The whole street was just a sea of blue. At that point, it kinda dawned on me, maybe this is the home invader.James: Maybe this is the rapist.Miller: Right.
Police arrested 27-year-old Darrin Fernandez, who also lived in Dorchester, for attempted breaking and entering. What’s more, he’d also tried to break in to the house next door.
Was he a desperate thief or something more sinister? Police found traces of blood containing DNA on a window sill where the man had cut himself trying to get in – DNA which proved to have serious repercussions for Fernandez.
Deakin: That little drop of blood matched his DNA profile and also linked him to the two prior rapes.
Police felt sure they’d nabbed their serial rapist. That’s because a DNA match ordinarily singles out the only person in the world with that specific scientific signature. And yet, there was something quite unusual about this blood evidence—something police had never seen before.
In March 2006, the case of the commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Darrin Fernandez began in a Boston courtroom.
The victim was Kate, the woman who’d been raped in her second-floor Dorchester apartment five years before.
Prosecutor David Deakin (Opening argument): The evidence in this case will show that the defendant, Darrin Fernandez, broke into a home ...
The defendant was charged with seven crimes, including 3 counts of rape and two for indecent assault and battery.
Deakin: In the course of this case ladies and gentlemen, you’ll hear a lot of evidence about a pattern of DNA. A DNA profile which you’ll hear is extremely rare. You’ll also hear a lot of evidence about a pattern of behavior, a pattern of conduct which identifies the defendant just as surely as the pattern of genes in his DNA.
In his opening argument, Prosecutor David Deakin emphasized behavior and conduct because, in this extraordinary case, he knew that DNA—usually a courtroom version of a slam-dunk—would only take him so far.
Sara James, Dateline correspondent: The rest of the way was gonna have to be the old-fashioned way.Deakin: That’s exactly right.James: You were just gonna have to prove it.Deakin: That’s right.
The jury didn’t know it, but this would be the third time Darrin Fernandez had been tried for allegedly raping Kate. Both other trials had ended in hung juries. Indeed, reportedly as many as 8 of 24 jurors hadn’t been willing to convict.
Deakin: In this case, the DNA is not going to help you make an identification.
Defense attorney Robert Zanello hoped a third jury would be just as uncertain, in which case perhaps the prosecutor would decide to throw in the towel.
Robert Zanello, defense attorney: The case was problematic because the DNA didn’t solve the matter.James: Have you ever tried a case like this?Zanello: No, I don’t think anybody in Massachusetts has tried a case like this.
The prosecution’s case began in a straightforward manner with the powerful and emotional testimony of the rape victim herself.
Kate (courtroom testimony): I remember waking up and opening my eyes and seeing a male figure standing at the foot of my bed.
Kate did not want her face visible during the trial. But since then, she’s changed her mind, allowing us to see her fully.
'Kate': He started moving towards the side of the bed. And as he was moving, he was making comments that were suggestive ...'Kate': Saying things to me, like sort of like sweet-talking, you know, telling me that I had a nice body and stuff like that. It’s very creepy.James: Creepy, why? Because, was he making it sound like you were his girlfriend?'Kate': Basically, yeah. He was just talking like he was coming on to me.
Turned out, sweet-talking would be just part of his M.O. Another element -- forcing her to have oral sex.
'Kate' (courtroom testimony): I started kind of choking, gagging.Deakin: What happened when you started to choke or gag?'Kate': He let go my head and proceeded to masturbate.
Kate said it had been pitch-black in her room, and she’d only caught the briefest glimpse of her attacker when she switched on the light as he fled. Her description of her assailant was limited, as his cap and long-sleeve shirt prevented her from identifying his hair or any distinguishing marks.
'Kate': I don’t recall.
In the two previous trials, Kate’s testimony and all the forensic evidence gathered wasn’t enough to gain a conviction. So the prosecutor knew he needed something more.
James: You thought, “It didn’t work, we’ve gotta do something different.”Deakin: Yes.
“Something different” for trial no. 3 was a new blockbuster witness—a woman who hadn’t appeared in the first two trials—a woman the prosecutor hoped might convince this jury to convict.
During a pivotal preliminary hearing, the prosecutor first managed to persuade the judge to allow her testimony—arguing it would show a strikingly similar pattern of behavior. Now the jury would hear from a second rape victim—a woman whose rapist had the identical DNA to the man who raped Kate.
Jennifer Hogrell, other victim/witness: I’m Jennifer Hogrell.
This is the other victim you heard from earlier. As you’ll remember, Jennifer had been raped in her own living room in August 2000, eight months before Kate’s attack.
On her first day of testimony, Jennifer requested that her face be concealed, but changed her mind to reveal herself the next day… and later in an interview with dateline.
Hogrell: I’m doing it so someone else who’s gone through this doesn’t have to be afraid to come forward. There’s no shame in it.(in court) Deakin: Did something wake you?Hogrell: Yes. Deakin: And how did you react to that?Hogrell: I jumped back.
Jennifer testified that she was awakened that fateful night by a man forcing himself on her.
Deakin: And what did you see at that point?Hogrell: I just seen a man in front of me masturbating.James: What did he make you do?Hogrell: He made me have oral sex with him. He made me have vaginal sex with him. He sweet-talked me as he raped me. That’s what he did.
Like Kate, Jennifer had experienced that same terrifying combination of intimidation and sweet-talk.
Hogrell: He got up and zipped up his pants and buckled them, and acted as if I was his girlfriend.Deakin: What do you mean when you say that?Hogrell: He attempted to walk away, and he turned back around and said, “Thank you. That was good.”Hogrell: And that was the worst part of it. It was, how can you thank someone for something you stole from them? Who are you to thank me? When you took from me?
But Jennifer Hogrell would exact a measure of revenge because she was able to specifically identify Darrin Fernandez in ways Kate could not.
Deakin: When the sketch was completed, did you have a chance to look at it?Hogrell: Yes sir.
Jennifer was able to offer key details about her attacker to a police sketch artist.
Deakin: And how did you feel it was in terms of a likeness between the sketch and the person...Hogrell: Very, very close.
Unlike Kate, she’d seen him without a hat and testified that his hair was short. What’s more, he’d worn a short-sleeved shirt, and she remembered an even more distinctive feature—a tattoo on his arm, though she couldn’t read what it said.
Hogrell: It was a tribal symbol. It was dark green or black color band that went around his arm.Deakin: What do you mean that it went around his arm?Hogrell: It went from like here to here.Deakin: Your honor, at this time I would ask that the defendant be instructed to display his tattoo for Miss Hogrell.
Then, in a dramatic moment, the prosecutor had Darrin Fernandez display his arm to Jennifer and the jury.
Deakin: Miss Hogrell, do you recognize that tattoo?Hogrell: Yes sir.Deakin: Where have you seen it before?Hogrell: On the man who raped me’s arm.Deakin: No further questions your honor.
After the testimony of these two women, it certainly seemed like an open-and-shut case. But as you’ll see, it was anything but.
That’s because of another man who is the spitting image of the defendant ... his identical twin, Damien—a perfect match all the way down to their identical DNA.
James: So the DNA found at the scene did match Darrin and did match Damien.Robert Zanello, Defense attorney: Yes. Completely.James: So instead of proving that it had to be Darrin Fernandez, it proved it could be Darrin or Damien Fernandez.Deakin: That’s right.
Sara James, Dateline correspondent: Do you think it is possible that Damien Fernandez, rather than Darrin, raped these women?Robert Zanello, defense attorney: I think it’s possible.
Possible because of a confounding DNA oddity. The DNA evidence in this case, instead of being unique to just one person in the world, matched “two” people—the defendant, Darrin, and his twin brother, Damien.
DNA indicated one of them was the rapist, but it couldn’t say which one.
James: When you heard that, what did you think?'Kate': “You’ve got to be kidding me.” (sighs) It’s like, what are the odds?James: To get your client off, you at least had to raise the possibility, didn’t you, that Damien could have done it?Robert Zanello, defense attorney: Yes.James: I mean, there’s no other way to try this case.Zanello: No.
This defense theory would pit brother against brother in a tense legal face-off—sort of a courtroom version of Cain and Abel.
On his way to testify, Damien walked past Darrin, seated at the defense table. The twins eyed one another, and in that shared glance, only they knew what the jury would have to decide: Which one was really the rapist?
Darrin and Damien Fernandez grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston. It was a hard-scrabble existence made even more daunting when they were teenagers, and lost their mother to cancer. The boys’ father had long-since been out of the picture, and they bounced from home to home, increasingly finding themselves running up against the law. Even though the twins were close, they didn’t shy away from using each other’s identity when they got in trouble. But this time, the trouble was far more serious—rape.
After opening pleasantries, Defense Attorney Robert Zanello immediately went on the offensive, launching a full-scale attack on the witness, Damien Fernandez, treating him as if he were the twin on trial.
Zanello: And you gave your brother up when you found out the DNA results included you?Damien Fernandez: If you wanna call it giving him up, I don’t call it giving it up. I didn’t do it. I was clearing my name basically.
Zanello was referring to Damien’s cooperation with the police, following the arrest of his brother—cooperation the defense characterized as self-serving and manipulative.
Zanello: You told the police to go look at Darrin’s house, to look for evidence in his house. Right?Damien Fernandez: Yeah.Zanello: You were doing everything you could to get the—police to get off your trail and onto your brother’s.Damien Fernandez: I wouldn’t quite put it like that.Zanello: Damien is an intelligent individual. I think that his efforts to be more cooperative with the police helped the police decide against Darrin. Damien got the upper hand.
Putting Damien on the defensive and suggesting that he could be the evil twin were key parts of Zanello’s strategy, a strategy that had worked in two previous trials which ended in hung juries.
Zanello: You have to hope that the jury says, “We would like to get it right. If we can’t be sure in our minds that we’re getting it right, then I can’t vote for guilty.”
And remember, all the defense needed was just one uncertain juror to again thwart a conviction.
Defense Attorney Zanello then upped the ante, going after Damien’s character and credibility.
Zanello: And you are the same Damien Fernandez, who was found guilty of assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, another assault and battery on a police officer, malicious damage to a motor vehicle, and assault by means of a dangerous weapon.Damien Fernandez: I wasn’t found guilty.Zanello: Pled guilty.Damien Fernandez: Yes.Sara James, Dateline correspondent: So the fact of the matter is Damien is not a choirboy.Zanello: Far from it, I think.
While Damien looked like he might be going to work, sporting a green shirt on one day of his testimony and a blue shirt on the other, in fact, what the jury didn’t know was that the witness had been escorted by armed guards from county jail. He’d been locked up for probation violation following a disorderly conduct arrest.
Zanello: Now, Mr. Fernandez, you have used Darrin Fernandez’s name in the past ...
Just as revealing about Damien’s character, Zanello said, was how he’d repeatedly thrown his own brother overboard when it suited his purpose— like the time Damien got involved in a traffic accident and pretended to be brother Darrin so he wouldn’t get in trouble.
Zanello: And you produced a driver’s license in the name of Darrin Fernandez to that officer, didn’t you?Damien Fernandez: Yes, I did.Zanello: And, you told that officer that you were Darrin Fernandez?Damien Fernandez: Yes.
And then there was the time Damien scammed his brother by signing for Darrin’s paycheck.
Zanello: You used the name “Darrin Fernandez” to sign the back of that check.Damien Fernandez: Yes, I did.Zanello: And you deposited that check into your back account?Damien Fernandez: Yes, I did.Zanello: You never gave him the money?Damien Fernandez: No.Zanello: Damien Fernandez gave me things on cross examination that show he has lied, he’s been deceitful, dishonest in the past. He has passed himself off as his brother to avoid either arrest or prosecution.
But did that make him a rapist? Remember, it was the defendant, Darrin and not his brother, who dripped DNA blood evidence on a window sill the night he was caught trying to break in to homes in Dorchester, just months after the nearby rapes of Jennifer and Kate.
David Deakin, prosecutor: One man and one man only committed these crimes, the defendant, Darrin Fernandez, and not his twin brother.
While the defense worked hard to portray the twins as a matched set— the brother as likely to be the rapist as the man on trial— the prosecution focused on noticeable differences in the way they looked around the time of Jennifer Hogrell’s rape in 2000.
Deakin: In the summer of 2000, specifically, did you have any tattoos on your arms?Damien Fernandez: No.
Remember, when Jennifer testified earlier, she said her rapist did have a tattoo on his arm.
Jennifer also testified that her rapist’s hair was short.
Deakin: What was your hairstyle and length?Damien Fernandez: I had relatively long hair.
And to back up this testimony, the prosecutor displayed this photo of Damien. Clearly, he’d had long hair back then.
Then the prosecutor put up a photo of the defendant for comparison.
Deakin: And now, ladies and gentlemen, look at the length of this man’s hair.
Both pictures were taken around the time of Jennifer’s rape.
For the prosecution, this was a dramatic demonstration that only the defendant—the twin with short hair—could have been the rapist.
And as for that conversation twin brother Damien had with the police, which the defense attorney called manipulative, the prosecutor said he behaved like a model citizen.
Deakin: Did they ask you to provide any sort of physical item? Did they ask you to give you them something?Damien Fernandez: Yeah.Deakin: What was that?Damien Fernandez: DNA.
Deakin: At that point he didn’t realize that his DNA sample was going to be identical to his brother’s. But he said, “Sure.” Right away. Just signed the form. Gave them a DNA sample.
Later, when he learned that DNA matching his and his brother’s was found at two rapes, Damien wrote a letter to a Boston police detective, demanding a thorough investigation.
Deakin: I told the jury, “Read that letter.”“So what are you as a detective going to do to distinguish the two of us?” Damien wrote in January, 2002. “I didn’t do anything so I have nothing to hide. I do know I wish you people would hurry and clear my name ...“I do not want to be one of those guys who’s falsely accused of a crime and then 30 some-odd years down the line the commonwealth comes to me with an apology.”
But the defense attorney contended that Damien’s letter actually was the work of a smooth operator, a pre-emptive strike to keep the focus on his brother Darrin, the accused rapist.
Zanello: This is the man who offers a letter and says, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
But the prosecutor maintained, no matter how much Damien wanted to prove his innocence, it still wasn’t easy to testify against his own flesh and blood.
Deakin: As children, were you and your brother Darrin close?Damien Fernandez: Yes, we were.Deakin: Damien Fernandez felt that he had been put in a no-win position by his brother. That if he testified he would be perceived on the street as a snitch. But if he didn’t testify he’d be perceived as somebody with something to hide.Deakin: Did you break into the Hogrell home and rape Jennifer Hogrell?Damien Fernandez: No. Deakin: I think he felt betrayed. I think he felt very clearly that his brother was pointing the finger at him to avoid accountability for his own crimes.Deakin: Did you break into the home in Dorchester and rape (bleep) (referring to Kate)?Damien Fernandez:No.Deakin: Nothing further your honor.
So it had come down to this: Had the prosecution proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the twin on trial, Darrin Fernandez, was the guilty one?
Or had the defense again raised enough doubt over which twin was the rapist to avoid conviction one more time?
Zanello: All I had to do was establish reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of the jury that they could not reach a unanimous verdict that it was my guy, as opposed to his brother, who could have committed this crime.
Finally, a jury would have to decide—and this jury was unusual. It had been granted a unique opportunity to play Perry Mason.
The case of Darrin Fernandez featured the bizarre twist of twin brothers, in effect, accusing each other of being a rapist. But it also had another highly unusual aspect.
Sara James, Dateline correspondent: What about the fact that the jury in this case was allowed to ask questions?Defense Attorney Robert Zanello: It’s something that I’ve never experienced before.
Jurors would have the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity in open court. Under Massachusetts law, the presiding judge decides whether to allow jury questions, and Raymond J. Brassard is one of the few judges who does solicit them.
James: The jury asked some pretty interesting questions.Prosecutor David Deakin: Yes, they did.
One of those questions was a stunner. In the three different trials, it had never occurred to any of the attorneys to ask the simple question that one juror asked twin brother, Damien.
Judge Brassard: Do you have a lisp, sir?Damien Fernandez: A lisp?Judge Brassard: I’m sorry.Damien Fernandez: I have a speech impediment, but ...
Since the brothers’ DNA was identical, the prosecution had to find key details that differentiated defendant Darrin from his twin, Damien—like hair length and a tattoo. Now, an astute juror found one more difference—Damien’s speech was slurred.
Judge Brassard: Does your brother have a lisp or a speech impediment of some sort?Damien Fernandez: Not that I know of, seems normal. I don’t know.
And why was that important? Remember, each rape victim heard her attacker’s voice clearly and never mentioned slurred speech.
James: Were you thinking to yourself, “Why didn’t we catch that? What was going on in my office that none of us thought to notice this difference?”Deakin: I did think that.The only thing that I could conclude, it’s a fairly mild speech impediment. It doesn’t scream out at you, but it’s there.
Now it was the defense’s turn to benefit from a jury question.
An inquisitive juror was about to challenge the prosecution’s strongest witness, Jennifer Hogrell.
But first, some background: earlier, the defense had questioned Jennifer’s recollection of that all-important tattoo.
Zanello: You were 97 percent sure that the tattoo was on the left arm?Hogrell: Yes sir.Zanello: That proved to be completely wrong.Hogrell: But I wasn’t 100 percent sure.
But then it got worse for the prosecution’s key witness.
In a stunning revelation, Defense Attorney Zanello brought out that Jennifer hadn’t actually remembered that tattoo until nearly three years after her rape.
Zanello: In August of 2000, you made no statement of any tattoo.Hogrell: No, sir.Zanello: And you told the—district attorney’s office in March of 2003 that this memory just popped into your head?Hogrell: Yes, sir.
With an opening to now challenge the previously unshakeable Jennifer Hogrell, the defense planted the idea with the jury that Jennifer’s delayed memory, in itself, might have been planted to better make the prosecution’s case.
Zanello: It may have been a suggested memory. No police officer said to you, “Did you notice anything unusual about the person that would help us identify the suspect insofar as scars or marks on his face?”Hogrell: They asked me about scars and marks on his face. But they never asked about tattoos. And at the time, it just wasn’t present in my mind.
All the more surprising, the defense argued, because Jennifer is a tattoo aficionado, with five of her own.
Zanello: It does bother me that she said she saw it 3 years later.
And it seems to have also bothered one member of the jury. Just listen as the judge reads this skeptical question.
Judge Brassard: Was the memory of the tattoo the only memory that you recalled in March, 2003 or later?Hogrell (quivering voice): Yes.
How could she possibly forget something so important for so long? Would that undermine Jennifer’s credibility with the jury? And would the juror who asked that question vote against conviction?
Now, after a two-week trial, the fate of defendant Darrin Fernandez was in the hands of a third jury.
For two twins and two victims—now linked forever—would there finally be a decision in this extraordinary case?
It was judgment day in a Boston courtroom, March 22, 2006 -- nearly five years since the woman you know as Kate was raped by one of two twin brothers, according to DNA evidence. But that DNA evidence couldn’t determine which one did it.
Kate has now moved away from Boston, away from the scene of the crime. She did not come back for the verdict, but Jennifer Hogrell, the other rape victim, had a front-row seat, just behind the defendant.
Prosecutor David Deakin: She looked as stressed out as I felt.
And while Defense Attorney Zanello and Defendant Darrin Fernandez anxiously waited for the jury’s decision, Prosecutor Deakin and his key witness shared an embrace.
Deakin: I just went over to tell her to hope for the best.
Would hearing from Jennifer, who hadn’t testified in the previous two trials, help Prosecutor Deakin win a conviction after two hung juries? Or, would her story about that tattoo, three years later, damage her credibility beyond repair?
Deakin: I always just have sort of a sick feeling in my stomach while the jury is out. And I had a very sick feeling in my stomach when this jury was out.
Defense Attorney Robert Zanello was nervous as well. Had he created enough doubt for just one juror about which brother was the evil twin?
Defense Attorney Robert Zanello: The worst moment is just before the jury comes down. It’s a very significant moment in your client’s life. My client is facing considerable penalties for these events.
Throughout the trial, Darrin Fernandez was stoic. But now, there were flashes of what looked like concern— perhaps fear— on his face.
The court clerk read the charges for the jury forewoman to answer.
Clerk reading verdict: Wherein the defendant, Darrin Fernandez, is charged with rape. Is the defendant guilty or not guilty?Forewoman: Guilty.Clerk: Further as to offense two, wherein the defendant Darrin Fernandez is charged with rape. Is the defendant guilty or not guilty?Forewoman: Guilty. Clerk: Further as to offense three ...Forewoman: Guilty.
Jennifer Hogrell, who’d poured her heart and soul into this case—another woman’s case—exploded into tears as one guilty verdict after another was read out.
Deakin: I could hear her crying. I didn’t look back at her. I was trying to maintain my own composure and be professional about it.James: When they came back in and they read that verdict, “Guilty?”Jennifer Hogrell: That was the third happiest day of my life. The second was when I had my daughter.
And her happiest day?
In 2003, the day the same defendant was convicted of raping her. These jurors were never told about that conviction, though they heard Jennifer’s powerful account of that rape.
Hogrell: It’s sad that two of the happiest days of my life is because of a man who raped me. But I know he cannot do this to anyone else. And that’s what makes it such a great day.
Meanwhile, Kate received the news over the telephone—guilty on all seven counts.
James: What was that like?'Kate': I went into shock. I couldn’t believe that it was finally over. You don’t know how heavy of a burden you’ve been carrying, until it’s actually lifted off of you.
What about Damien, the defendant’s brother, the twin whose identical DNA made him a target in this case?
David Deakin, prosecutor: Damien has tried to reach out to Darrin, to talk about this case. But Darrin won’t speak to him.
As for how the now twice-convicted rapist, Darrin Fernandez, felt about a defense strategy that turned his brother into a scapegoat?
Robert Zanello, defense attorney: It’s something that he had to simply deal with as I did it. But it’s not something we’ve ever discussed.
Darrin Fernandez did not take the stand in his defense, but now he would have a chance to be heard in a pre-sentencing statement in open court.
And his angry and defiant words would give his victims a window into the heart and mind of a rapist.
Although she wasn’t in court for the verdict, Kate did come back to Boston a week later for the sentencing of Darrin Fernandez.
There she met up with Jennifer Hogrell for an emotional hug, a victory hug.
Two different personalities and Jennifer, bold and outgoing ... Kate, shy and private.
Sara James, Dateline correspondent: Do you believe that there’s almost a sisterhood between you and Jennifer Hogrell now?'Kate': Yes, yes. She is really the one person who has any idea what I had to go through.
Seated together in the front row at the sentencing hearing, both women said they were 100 percent certain the right twin was convicted.
'Kate': Third trial, so third time’s the charm.
In addition to the evidence, Jennifer says she was struck by something that happened during her own rape trial in 2003. She says she was sitting outside the courtroom with her baby daughter when who should come over, but of all people, Damien, the brother of the man who raped her.
Jennifer Hogrell: He was nervous. He was pacing the hallways cause he was gonna testify against his brother. And he sat down next to me with no clue as to who I was and had a conversation with me. And told me how beautiful my daughter was. And that assured me that I had the right man. Damien did not rape me.
Meanwhile, Kate says she gained additional reassurance, ironically, from Darrin himself ... From his pre-sentencing statement to the judge.
Darrin Fernandez (pre-sentencing statement): First I would like to say to the court, and the media, and the public, that I’m innocent. I did not rape you. It is obvious why you would believe the government; most simple people do. Time will tell and the truth will come out. For centuries, your people have been raping and pillaging countries and still are today, with no known consequences.'Kate': That erased any, any shred of doubt I ever may have had in my mind that he didn’t do it.James: Why?'Kate': (Sighs) The tone of his voice. Just the way—how he said everything. Just the lack of remorse, the lack of horror in his voice. It kind of sent chills down my spine.Fernandez: Now I stand before you convicted of rape. Your honor, you allowed this erroneous trial to happen. You’re supposed to stand for justice. To me, you stand for conviction.'Kate': I mean I just think he’s a psychopath. What kind of person tries to pin a crime on their own brother?Hogrell: He’s a coward.
Jennifer Hogrell told us that testifying in Kate’s trial has helped in her continuing recovery.
Hogrell: I got to look at him head-on. He didn’t kill me, he made me so much stronger. And to see his face, it makes me so much stronger.James: In fact, when you came down from taking the stand, you stared right at him.Hogrell: I did. I want him to remember me. Because of what he did, I will live with Darrin’s face in my head every single day for the rest of my life. And I will be damned if he forgets me. Any court date he has, I will be there. Any parole hearing he has, I will be there.
As for Kate, she too is recovering, but can’t escape the stark memories of her attack.
James: Do you still think about it every night?'Kate': Yeah. I mean, each night I still go to sleep usually with the lights on and the radio playing. I mean I still get really afraid that someone’s gonna think that my guard is down.James: Do you think there will come a day when you can go to sleep with the lights off and the radio off?'Kate': I hope so, but I don’t know that for sure.
Darrin Fernandez was sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison for raping the woman identified in our story as “Kate.” That’s tacked onto the 10-to-15 year sentence he’s already serving for Jennifer Hogrell’s rape.