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Home  >  Topics  >  CSI / Forensics

November 20, 2007
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DNA given voluntarily links Calif. man to rape

Sample was intended for his brother's case

By Brandon Bailey
San Jose Mercury News

CAMPBELL, Calif. — When David Pearman gave investigators a sample of his DNA, he knew it might help them link his older brother to the brutal 1983 rape and murder of a Campbell teenager.

But last week, detectives came knocking at Pearman's door again. This time, they said, his DNA had connected Pearman to a separate horrendous crime - the rape of an 81-year-old San Jose woman.

Now both brothers are facing charges that could send them to prison for life. They are being housed - in separate cells - in the Santa Clara County men's jail without bail.

" 'Lucky' is the word that comes to mind," said Assistant District Attorney David Tomkins, referring to the sequence of events that led authorities to identify Pearman as a suspect in the 2001 rape of the elderly woman.

Pearman, also known as David Leonard Holland, 46, was arrested Friday and arraigned Monday on charges stemming from that case. Court records show he has a prior felony conviction for residential burglary.

Investigators say Pearman's DNA matches a sample taken from the 2001 crime scene. But they never would have linked that evidence to Pearman if they hadn't been looking for his 53-year-old brother in a different case.

"He probably would have gotten away with it," Tomkins added, if a district attorney's office's "cold case" investigator hadn't started looking at Christopher Melvin Holland in connection with the long-ago murder of 17-year-old Cynthia Munoz.

More than 24 years ago, the teenager was found partly nude and bleeding from stab wounds to her neck and chest inside her Campbell home. For many years, though authorities may have had their suspicions, they apparently lacked evidence to charge a suspect in that case.
But earlier this year, investigator Michael Schembri began looking closely at the Munoz murder again.

Among other things, it turned out that a friend of Christopher Holland had bragged that he and Holland raped and killed Munoz during a robbery for drugs.

But as Schembri closed in on Holland, he dropped from sight.

Realizing that authorities had a semen sample from the 1983 rape, the investigator asked two of Holland's brothers to provide DNA samples in hopes of establishing a link.

Ultimately, it was the sample provided by another brother, Kenneth Holland, that led authorities to charge Christopher Holland in the 1983 murder. The test showed a close link between Kenneth Holland and the person who raped Cynthia Munoz, authorities say.

A lab analyst reported that it was "possible but highly improbable" that anyone other than a relative of Kenneth Holland committed the crime.

That was enough to get a warrant for Christopher Holland, who was arrested last month after a tipster told authorities he was hiding in a San Jose apartment.

David Pearman's sample, meanwhile, contained two surprises.

First, according to a law enforcement affidavit, it showed that Pearman and Kenneth Holland did not have the same father. Ultimately, Tomkins said, Pearman's sample had no bearing on the 1983 case.

But in recent weeks, Tomkins said lab technicians were following routine procedures for entering DNA samples into a computerized database, when David Holland's sample turned up a match - to the sample taken as evidence from the 2001 rape.

The victim in that case, an elderly woman who lived alone, reported that a man slipped into her home around 5 a.m. and climbed into her bed. He threatened to kill her and forced her to perform sex acts, according to a police affidavit. He then spent around 20 minutes talking on her telephone - records show he called a phone-sex line - before leaving the terrified woman in her house.

The woman died of an unrelated cause in 2004, but authorities believe they now have evidence to prosecute Pearman. He is charged with rape and forcible oral copulation in the course of a burglary.

Full story: DNA given voluntarily links Calif. man to rape

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