Expatica news

DNA evidence in schoolgirl trial ‘damning’

10 June 2004

RENNES – A Spanish drifter accused of raping and murdering a British schoolgirl eight years ago broke down in tears during his trial Thursday after experts testified that DNA evidence against him was damning.

Francisco Arce Montes, 54, was given time to recover his composure after he started crying at the court in Rennes in north-western France.

Later he said: “I want to excuse these tears in this room where I am not the victim.”.

The Spaniard has admitted sexually assaulting 13-year-old Caroline Dickinson as she was sleeping in a French youth hostel in July 1996, but denies intending to kill her.

Dickinson was found smothered to death on her mattress in the room she shared with four school-friends.

Her genitalia had suffered severe trauma, and there was semen on her thigh and on her pyjama shorts which had been removed.

Arce Montes faces life in prison if convicted of voluntary homicide accompanied by rape.

The court heard Thursday from two genetics experts who said the DNA samples taken from Dickinson’s body perfectly matched those from Arce Montes.

The experts, Marie-Helene Cherpin and Olivier Pascal, had been involved in the mass testing of males in the region around the hostel following the murder.

Although 425 men were tested, Arce Montes managed to escape the dragnet and remained at large for years.

When a US customs officer visiting France in 2001 on vacation noticed a resemblance between the suspect sought in the Dickinson case and that of a Spaniard – Arce Montes – arrested in April that year in the US city of Miami following a sexual assault, a DNA test was ordered that provided a match.

Arce Montes was extradited to France that year after US authorities dropped the lesser charges against him to facilitate his murder trial.

The trial is expected to end Friday.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news