Rochester, N.Y. --- On Thursday afternoon Ronell McFadden, 35, was sentenced to sixty years in state prison in front of Monroe County Court Judge James Piampiano.
Mcfadden broke into a woman's home in May 2006 and raped her at knifepoint while her baby slept nearby. A jury found him guilty of 1st Degree Rape and 1st Degree Criminal Sex Act on February 1st.
In court Thursday, he received the maximum sentence, 20 years on each count, but the statute states that he can't serve more than 50 years.
(Additional court documents attached to this report. Original report can be found by clicking here.)
A 13WHAM News investigation showed that McFadden was linked to the crime by DNA in September 2006. But he wasn't arrested for six years during which time he remained in our community committing other crimes. Our investigation sought to figure it out why this case was not acted on sooner and why it took six years to file charges against McFadden.
The court transcript (attached) from a November 8, 2012 pre-trial hearing appears to reveal the path McFadden’s case took in the criminal justice system. It describes how the case moved from desk to desk within the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office with little or no action until 2011. It also reveals that a letter dated September, 13, 2006 notified R.P.D. Captain Lynde Johnson and then Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green of the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) match to “known offender” Ronell McFadden.
McFadden’s criminal history dates back to 1995 when he served the first of two state prison sentences.
The transcript from this November 2012 hearing also offers two possible explanations as to why the case was not acted upon sooner. One Assistant District Attorney described an overwhelming case load with “40 to 45” pending cases with a new one arriving “every other day.” She used the word “triage” to describe how cases had to be dealt with.
Another Assistant D.A. argued at this hearing and in prior motions arguments that the victim was “not emotionally prepared” to move forward with prosecution. An argument that appears to contradict sworn testimony from the victim at that November 2012 hearing when she told the court she first learned of the DNA match in March 2011 and that she would have cooperated and testified in court if she knew sooner.
13WHAM News first inquired about this case on February 1st when a news release (attached) announced the jury’s verdict and conviction.
In a press release Thursday, the Monroe County District Attorney's Office said, "This case began in 2006 when a Rochester woman was raped by a man who threatened her and her baby at knife point. A mistaken identification led to the arrest of an innocent man. Months later DNA technology exonerated that man, and gave law enforcement a new lead. But that DNA was only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Through the hard work of ADA Truelove and Investigator Dominic the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office was able to complete that puzzle and bring McFadden to justice."
"Upon taking office District Attorney Doorley created the Special Victims Trial Division which includes a bureau devoted to working with adult victims of sexual assaults. This bureau and all Assistant District Attorneys work with victims to obtain justice, while ensuring only the guilty are convicted. Today’s sentence of Ronell McFadden to 60 years in prison should assure this community that the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office works tirelessly to bring justice to the victims of crime and to obtain convictions of the people who commit those crimes."
The victim in the case released a statement which said: “I wake up in the middle of the night out of a sound sleep to double check that the doors are locked. I get woken up by nightmares and every bit of noise. The one place where I am supposed to feel safe was my home. He ruined that for me. Those are the things I went through and those are the things I am going through. Justice is now served for me.”
13WHAM News was in court for McFadden’s sentencing.
You can follow Sean Carroll’s updates on Twitter @scarroll13 and he’ll bring you reaction tonight on 13WHAM News at 5 and 6.