A cold-hit DNA rape case from 1996 ended with a guilty plea Thursday.

Keith Q. Haynes, 38, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.

“This was a particularly brutal crime, and for many years it looked like it might not be solved,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “But the improving DNA technology allowed us to reach back in time and, with some excellent legal arguments by our prosecutor, we were able to get this conviction.”

An 82-year-old woman was walking her dog near Aldrich Avenue N. on Nov. 6, 1996, when a man approached from behind and knocked her to the ground between two garages. He demanded money, and when she told him she had none, he raped her.

She was taken to the hospital after the sexual assault and bodily fluids were recovered. However, it was not until 2011 that a DNA profile was able to be developed and matched to Haynes, and it was not until 2013 that he was charged.

Haynes was arrested in Milwaukee that year. During a pretrial hearing, Haynes’ attorney argued that everything the victim told a nurse at the hospital should be excluded from any trial as hearsay.

Prosecutor Cheri Townsend argued that it should be allowed because the victim’s statements were made for the purposes of her medical diagnosis and treatment. The judge agreed with Townsend. The victim died in 2008 at age 94.

During his guilty plea Thursday, Haynes apologized to the victim’s family.

DAVID CHANEN