Monday, November 30, 2015

Man in prison for rape convictions cleared by DNA testing after 16 years

USA TODAY NETWORKMary Bowerman, USA TODAY Network12:29 p.m. EST November 24, 2015

After new DNA evidence cleared him of the crimes and linked them to the notorious "teardrop rapist" Los Angeles judge on Monday overturned the conviction of a man who spent 16 years in prison for sexual assault and other charges. USA TODAY

(Photo: AP)

A California man who spent 16 years behind bars for sexual assault convictions was cleared on Monday after DNA evidence linked the crimes to another man.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan exonerated Luis Vargas after DNA evidence linked the crimes to the so-called “teardrop rapist,” who is suspected of more than 30 rapes in the Los Angeles area since 1996 and has never been identified, AP reported.

The teardrop rapist gained his nickname for a teardrop tattoo under his eye. The rapist was known for grabbing his victims and threatening them with a weapon before pulling them into a secluded area and raping them, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Vargas, lived near the area where several assaults took place and was misidentified as the rapist because of a similar teardrop tattoo, according to the Times.

In 1999, he was sentenced to 55 years in prison for three sexual assaults, but as he sat behind bars the rapes continued, the Times reported.

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