DNA match brings charges in St. Paul stranger rape

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 28, 2011 - 9:34 PM

A 34-year-old man jailed in Georgia is accused of grabbing a woman, pulling her into the weeds and raping her.

The 19-year-old woman told St. Paul police that she'd gone for a walk to "cool off" after an argument with her boyfriend. She hadn't gone far, she said, when she noticed a man following her. He soon grabbed her, pulled her into the weeds and raped her.

That harrowing tale was contained in charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct filed Friday in Ramsey County District Court against Aaron K. Brown, 34, and made public Monday.

It's unclear where Brown makes his home. He was in custody in Jacksonville, Fla., when he was linked by DNA to the St. Paul rape, which was reported early Aug. 1.

Brown was transferred last Tuesday to the Lowndes County jail in Valdosta, Ga., where he was wanted for violating probation on a conviction for bringing stolen property into the state.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County:

A St. Paul officer was sent to a home in the 1500 block of Rice Street on the city's East Side about 12:30 a.m. Aug. 1. The victim reported that she had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend and decided to walk down Rice Street to cool off.

She turned right onto Ivy Avenue and noticed a man following her, the complaint said. As she neared Farrington Street, the man grabbed her by the hair and pushed her to the ground. He pulled her into the weeds at the end of the block and raped her, charges said. He told her he would kill her if she screamed.

The man ran away after the assault, the woman said. She returned to the Rice Street home and called police. She gave the officer a description of her attacker, including that he had gold front teeth.

The victim had a sexual assault exam at Regions Hospital and samples were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be tested for DNA. In December, the DNA was found to match Brown's, who was by then in custody in Florida on a warrant from Georgia and charges of contempt of court and simple battery.

"This case definitely speaks to the power of DNA," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Monday.

In January, Brown told Jacksonville detectives that he had been in Minnesota from March to November 2010. A spokesman for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department said Brown's criminal history there includes dealing in stolen property, aggravated domestic assault, false imprisonment and auto theft.

Brown had been arrested July 23 by St. Paul police in connection with a different attempted sexual assault, but there was not enough evidence to file charges, officer John Keating said. In that incident, a suspect allegedly offered several teenage girls money to expose themselves.

Brown is not a suspect in any other St. Paul cases, Keating said.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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