Moore County prosecutors used DNA from dog feces to convict a man in the home-invasion rape of a Dumas woman.
Rufus Sito Nanez III took the stand during his three-day trial and denied attacking the woman in September 2007.
But jurors on Wednesday needed only 45 minutes to find the 34-year-old former meatpacker guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault and a single count of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit a felony.
He was sentenced to three life terms.
“The evidence suggested he watched her movements and her day-to-day patterns for quite awhile,” said 69th District Attorney David M. Green. “This was a brutal crime.”
Prosecutors argued that Nanez waited for the woman’s husband to leave home before breaking into her home and attacking her. At some point, the two tussled in the backyard, where the woman often curbed her dog.
Swabs of the family dog’s saliva were collected by authorities, along with fecal samples from the shirt and in the yard. All three were linked by scientists at the University of California, Davis, which has a veterinary genetics laboratory to study animal DNA.
“It definitely tied him to the scene,” Green said.
Nanez’s criminal history may have played a role in the heavy sentence.
He was convicted in March 1997 for felony burglary of a habitation and was given probation.
His probation was revoked after he was arrested in Pampa for being a felon in possession of a firearm in August 2001, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.
Nanez was given a 10-year prison sentenced in February 2004 and was paroled in December 2006.