An unsolved rape in Tampa had turned into a cold case. It would take eight years, a determined detective and a solid DNA match to bring it to trial.
On Thursday, State Attorney Rita Peters told the jury 30-year-old Mannot Lusca raped a single mother in her townhouse back in 2003. Peters even played a taped confession Lusca had given detectives.
Lusca was serving time on a drug conviction in California, just before his release in 2011. A DNA match linked him to the eight-year-old rape, and four others around that time.
Earlier this week, the victim told the jury the defendant forced his way into her home and held a fake gun to her head while he sexually assaulted her on her staircase.
But defense attorney J. Kenneth Littman challenged the single mom's memory, claiming she was desperate for a conviction.
"Not that she's a liar, not that she's an untruthful witness, she's an inaccurate witness," Littman said.
But after deliberating for less than two hours, the jury had reached a verdict: guilty of sexual battery.
Before sentencing, Lusca addressed the judge.
"I apologize for what I did and to say I'm sorry," Lusca said.
But it didn't sway Judge Chet Tharpe, who handed Lusca a stiff penalty of consecutive life sentences in state prison.
And it gave Lusca something to think about while he's locked up.
"She'll spend the rest of her life never being able to forget it. You caused that," Judge Tharpe said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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