After 32 years, rape case moves forward in court | MyWindsorNow.com

After 32 years, rape case moves forward in court

Tommy Simmons
tsimmons@greeleytribune.com

After three decades, a cold sexual assault case is finally moving forward.

Prosecutors say Rusty Barnhart and Inocencio Trevino sexually assaulted a 19-year-old Greeley woman in 1984, and they got their first chance to offer evidence in the case in a preliminary hearing Wednesday. DNA evidenced pinned the men to the crime, but they are only charged with kidnapping.

The statute of limitations on sexual assault in Colorado is 10 years. Prosecutors have charged them with kidnapping instead. If convicted, Barnhart and Trevino could face up to 24 years in prison.

The purpose of Wednesday's hearing was for prosecutors to prove to Judge Thomas Quammen there is enough evidence to move forward with the case.

Greeley police officer Robert Cash told the court the genesis of the case lay in a 2013 law passed by Colorado's legislature, requiring Colorado's police departments to submit warehoused rape kits to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations for analysis. Greeley's 1984 case was among those the Bureau received.

In December 2015, the Bureau informed Greeley police Trevino and Barnhart were potential matches to the DNA evidence in the kit.

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Cash then began making phone calls.

He notified the victim, who had since moved away from Greeley. It is The Tribune's policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.

Cash located Trevino, who was in Sterling, serving time for a separate offense. And he called Barnhart, who had moved to Brownsville, Texas.

Cash testified the victim returned to Greeley to help police piece together what happened that night 32 years ago as she walked home from work at a local restaurant.

"We would kind of have her guide us to where it happened, and she took us to the intersection of 8th Avenue and 16th Street," Cash said, telling the court the assault happened in the alleyways of the 1500 block of 8th Avenue.

Prosecutors say Trevino and Barnhart forced the victim to move to different locations through the block's alleys to avoid being seen by potential witnesses, once even forcing her to walk across 15th Street. The case's kidnapping charges hinge on this forced movement.

After the two-hour hearing, Quammen said he was satisfied there was probable cause to support the charges with a sexual assault component.

What’s Next

Rusty Barnhart and Inocencio Trevino are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment at 9 a.m. on Sept. 23, when they are expected to enter a plea. They are charged with kidnapping.

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