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November 16, 2023

DNA Advances Lead to Charges Filed in 2006 Aggravated Sexual Assault of Teenager

Today, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced charges that were filed against Jose Luis Pina-Cruz for his part in an alleged aggravated sexual assault of a 16-year-old in 2006. This new filing identifies the alleged co-defendant who had been unknown for 17 years.

In 2006, the teenage survivor told authorities that she had been sexually assaulted by two men that she could not identify. In 2018, her sexual assault kit was tested through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). At the time, one male individual, Frank Benavidez, was identified using the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)—a computer software program that has DNA profiles from convicted individuals. Charges were filed against Mr. Benavidez, who at the time was in prison and remains there today.

While preparing to prosecute Mr. Benavidez, DNA technology continued to evolve. The prosecution team applied this new technology to unprocessed samples in this case. Jose Luis Pina-Cruz was identified as the second perpetrator of the alleged 2006 aggravated sexual assault as a result.

Mr. Pina-Cruz has been charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping, and first-degree felony aggravated robbery.

“Developing technology played a critical role in this investigation.  We commend our prosecutors that utilized DNA testing to continue to work the case to help identify the second alleged suspect,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. “We appreciate the patience of the survivor and her family as this case was being investigated. While one alleged offender had been identified the second alleged offender remained unknown for years. One can only imagine the fear and trauma for survivors and the community when an alleged assailant remains unknown and at large. There is no closure. Today that vacuum of the unknown is filled, and the survivor and our community can rest easily now that all the alleged offenders have been apprehended. All persons accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”