An Illinois man appeared in court yesterday to face rape charges filed against him seven years ago—when prosecutors didn't know his name, but knew his DNA. In 2000, Milwaukee prosecutor Norm Gahn was among the first in the country to file charges based solely on a DNA profile—in this case a serial rapist identified by semen from five young victims. Gahn's "John Doe" finally turned up in the FBI's DNA bank in June.
Rodney Washington, who's been in and out of prison since 1978, was serving a stint in Illinois for drug possession when state police took a DNA sample. Ten days later, Gahn got his hit. But the case is no slam dunk—Washington's lawyer plans to challenge the DNA's age and analysis.