Man convicted in 1996 rape taking appeal to Supreme Court

Posted at 5:32 PM, Mar 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-05 20:17:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY - The man convicted in the rape and beating of a college student in 1996 says his constitutional rights were violated and is sending his claims to the Utah Supreme Court.

Donald Eugene Younge is currently serving up to life in prison in the rape after being convicted in 2009. But he claims Utah's old statute of limitations in rape cases, which used to be 4 years, ran out well before then.

Younge was the suspect in a triple murder in Illinois, and Salt Lake City police were able to link him via DNA to the 1996 rape.

But with more than a decade passing since the rape occurred, Younge says his sixth amendment right to a speedy trial was violated. Prosecutors say that isn't the case.

"The sixth amendment gives everyone the right to a speedy trial, but it's not to be used as a sword to decapitate the criminal process," Gray said.

When prosecutors in Illinois dropped their case, Utah worked to get an arrest warrant and, eventually, convict him. Younge's DNA helped authorities link him to the rape, which allowed them to arrest and convict him.

"And once those charges were dropped in Illinois, the state immediately sought extradition and he was tried in Utah within seven months," Jeff Gray said.

Younge's appeal has made it to the Utah Supreme Court, where arguments were heard on Tuesday.

Rebecca, the victim in the 1996 rape, and the Utah Attorney General hope they've provided enough information to avoid Younge getting off on a technicality.

"This needs to end, this needs to go away and hopefully the court will make the right decision and make a good decision that's good for all of us."

Prosecutors don't expect to hear back from the Supreme Court justices until late summer at the earliest.