HILLSBOROUGH — A judge sentenced a Burlington man to a minimum of 138 years in prison Tuesday after a jury found him guilty of breaking into two women’s apartments in Carrboro and raping them in 2005 and 2006.
Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour told Frank Cruz, 36, that he structured the sentences so Cruz would never get out of prison, because of the devastation he caused the two women.
Cruz, who lived in Carrboro at the time of the attacks, was convicted of breaking into one woman’s apartment twice and raping her multiple times and of breaking into another woman’s apartment and beating, raping and sexually assaulting her at knife point.
One woman testified that she was living at Abbey Court in November 2005 when the electricity went off as she was watching the 11 o’clock news. As she tried to figure out why, a man knocked on her door and told her he had called Duke Power. When she tried to close the door, he pushed it open, knocked her down and forced her into the bedroom, where he raped and sexually assaulted her, she said.
A month and a half later, the woman said she woke up to find a man, who she believed was the same man, in her bedroom. Again he raped and sexually assaulted her.
The second woman testified that she was sleeping when she woke to find a man in her apartment on BPW Club Road in March 2006. He had a knife, held it to her neck and raped and sexually assaulted her as she fought with him. He punched her multiple times in the jaw as she resisted and screamed.
During the trial, the women testified about the pain and horror they experienced during and after the nighttime attacks. But neither woman pointed at Cruz to identify him as the man who attacked them.
“You never even heard the question, ‘Well, do you see that gentleman over there? Does he look like the person who assaulted you?’ ” Cruz’s attorney, George Doyle, said to the jury of seven men and five women during his closing argument.
Doyle, who did not present any evidence on Cruz’s behalf, attacked the State Bureau of Investigation lab workers who linked Cruz to one woman through DNA and to the other woman’s apartment through fingerprints. He noted that one of the key witnesses twice failed competency tests about DNA and lab procedures and transferred out of the DNA department after the tests.
“No one is lying here,” Doyle said. “I just suggest to you that that does not entitle that evidence to be given great weight.”
Assistant District Attorney Byron Beasley reminded jurors during his closing statement that police found Cruz’s fingerprint on the front door and his palm print on the broken window of the woman’s apartment at Abbey Court.
He also noted how an Alamance County sheriff’s deputy took DNA from Cruz in 2009 while he was investigating a separate case and how it was found to match DNA from the second woman’s body.
“Everything those women told you, it matches,” Beasley said.
The jury took two hours to find Cruz guilty of all the charges, except for one count of first-degree kidnapping.
After the verdicts, Beasley read a victim impact statement from the second woman, a graduate student at the time of the assault.
After the attack, she wrote, she dropped out of school, sank into a deep depression and lost her job. Her father had recently died, she said, and when she told her mother what happened, her mother completely shut down. Her sister flew in to help her recover from her internal and external injuries, but after returning home, her sister “buckled under the stress and committed suicide,” she said.