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Testing old rape kits leads to first indictment in Louisville

The testing has led to 110 matches to national or state DNA databases, possibly providing police new leads in old cases. But the matches were not necessarily linked to known people

July 23, 2027

A convicted rapist on the state's lifetime sex offender registry is the first person to be indicted as part of the statewide push to test old rape kits. The indictment is a long-awaited first for the initiative, which has already led to the testing of more than 3,000 kits from across Kentucky.

"This really has been a massive undertaking," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kristi Gray. "The ... grant project is very important and this demonstrates that we are working our way through this backlog of untested kits."

The testing has led to 110 matches to national or state DNA databases, possibly providing police new leads in old cases. But the matches were not necessarily linked to known people. The indictment in Jefferson Circuit Court alleges Cornelius Miller, 58, raped a woman in July 2012.

According to court records, Miller offered a woman a ride near 26th and Slevin streets in the Portland neighborhood, drove her to a cemetery near Cane Run Road and raped her.

Sgt. Tim Stokes, with Louisville Metro Police Sex Crimes, was notified in March that lab testing of the rape kit linked Miller to the case. It wasn't until earlier this month that Stokes was able to locate the woman who first reported the rape.

Miller was indicted days later, July 17, on a single count of first-degree rape as well as a persistent felony offender charge. He is already being held at Metro Corrections awaiting trial in another case involving two women assaulted under similar circumstances. He has pleaded not guilty to raping the two in Louisville cemeteries in August and September of 2015.

Court records show Miller's past is marked with multiple past sex offense convictions in Jefferson County.

In 1979, Miller was charged with rape, robbery, kidnapping and sodomy and received a 15-year sentence, court records show, though he was released on parole in 1981.

In 1983, Miller was charged and ultimately convicted in two separate rape cases. He received a 20- and 10-year sentence and was granted parole in 2009.

The Jefferson County case is the first criminal indictment to arise from the testing of old kits, many of which were identified during a 2015 audit mandated by the state legislature and conducted by the state auditor. 

The audit found 3,090 kits sitting in law enforcement storage shelves and property rooms — some nearly 50 years old — which for a variety of reasons were never tested for possible DNA evidence.

Since the audit, 3,567 kits have been submitted by police to Kentucky State Police for testing as part of the backlog initiative. State police were awarded a grant from the New York County district attorney's office to have the kits tested in batches by a Utah-based lab, allowing Kentucky's labs to keep up with the already heavy demand of current cases.

In the Miller case, it is not yet clear if the rape kit was ever sent for testing prior to the latest initiative, and if it wasn't, why it wasn't submitted. Both police and prosecutors declined to discuss particulars of the case, saying it is pending in court.

Miller is set to be arraigned on the newest charges July 31.

Backlogs of untested kits are a problem across the country. A 2015 USA TODAY investigation found at least 70,000 neglected kits at more than 1,000 police agencies.The investigation further found widespread inconsistency in how law enforcement agencies handle rape evidence, noting most lacked formal written guidelines or policies guiding how, or if, the evidence is to be stored or tested.

The Kentucky audit highlighted similar issues, including a lack of clear policies by law enforcement, little understanding about the value of testing a rape kit, long testing turnaround times at the state lab and a lack of specially trained nurses.

Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or .

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