Eleven years after a Denver woman is sexually assaulted at knifepoint, her attacker is convicted

Cold Case Project team uses DNA to catch man

DENVER - Nearly 11 years after a Denver woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint, her attacker has been convicted.

A Denver jury found Francisco Charles, 33, guilty of two counts of sexual assault and one count of second-degree kidnapping, Denver district attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said Monday.

The arrest and successful prosecution of Charles was credited to work by the Cold Case DNA Project, a collaborative effort involving Denver Police Department detectives, crime lab technicians and the Denver District Attorney's Office. The initiative is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2001, Charles attacked a 29-year-old woman as she was walking in the 1500 block of Broadway and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint, Kimbrough said. The victim was able to later run to a nearby taxi cab for help.

The case remained unsolved until it was reviewed by cold case investigators.

Charles, who was also known as Francisco Hernandez, was identified as a suspect through DNA.

The Denver Police Department Crime Lab was instrumental in solving the case, which was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Bonnie Wright-Benedetti and Deputy District Attorney Andrew Baum.

Charles is scheduled to appear in Denver District Court on Jan. 3. He faces an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison.