Chilean found guilty in Colorado student’s slaying
Associated Press Writer
Boulder, CO Colorado
BOULDER, Colorado – A jury has convicted Diego Olmos Alcalde of first-degree murder in the 1997 death of a University of Colorado student.
The Boulder jury took about half a day Friday to convict Olmos Alcalde in the beating death of Susannah Chase. The case was cold for almost a decade until a DNA sample submitted by Olmos Alcalde while serving a separate prison sentence in Wyoming connected him to Chase’s unsolved murder.
The 23-year-old student from Stamford, Conn., was attacked on a street corner and dumped in an alley while walking home alone from a pizza parlor.
Olmos Alcalde originally denied knowing Chase or having been to Boulder in decades, but he changed his story at trial. The native of Chile said he had consensual sex with Chase.
Prosecutors and jurors did not believe him.
During 10 days of testimony, jurors heard from Olmos Alcalde’s half-sister, Ona Bayers, and his ex-girlfriend, Sonci Francis.
Both women told jurors that days after Chase’s death, Olmos Alcalde described a similar attack. Only in Olmos Alcalde’s story the victim was a man he got into a fight with at a bar, the women said.
Jurors also heard from the victim in the Wyoming kidnapping case, who described how Olmos Alcalde in 2000 followed her home, then attacked her in a parking lot and tried to drag her away to a secluded area. Her family, who was nearby, came to her rescue.
Chase had left a pizzeria after an argument with her boyfriend and was attacked a block from her home on Dec. 21, 1997. She died the next day in a hospital – the same day she was supposed to fly home to Connecticut for Christmas.
Olmos Alcalde was not among the suspects just after the slaying, when police interviewed hundreds of people, including Chase’s boyfriend, and took DNA samples from at least 50 men. No matches were made and leads in the case eventually fizzled out.
DNA was first collected from Olmos Alcalde in 2001 after the Wyoming kidnapping conviction.
After years of appeals, a new trial in the Wyoming case and a long wait caused by a backlog of thousands of samples in Wyoming’s state lab, Olmos Alcalde’s DNA profile was uploaded into a national DNA database in January 2008. He was arrested within days.
Sentencing for Olmos Alcalde was set for Monday. He faces a life term.
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