A Chicago engineer, who was the first suspect in a sex crime to be charged in Maryland based entirely on a DNA profile from a national database, pleaded guilty yesterday to a first-degree sex offense, authorities said.
Gary William Pescrillo, 45, entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but admitted that prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict him, to one count of a first-degree sex offense in a 1989 assault. He could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison under his plea agreement. Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Pamela L. North scheduled sentencing for July 17.
For more than a decade, the sexual assault June 28, 1989, of a Linthicum woman by a masked gunman who broke into her home went unsolved. Nearly two years ago, police sent a semen sample from the case to a private laboratory to be processed under a technology that shows a genetic profile. The new information was sent to state police and was placed into the National DNA Index System to be compared with DNA profiles of other offenders.
In August 2000, state police got word that the DNA matched that of Pescrillo, who had moved to Chicago and registered in January 2000 with Illinois officials as a convicted sex offender, based on a 1994 North Carolina conviction for "taking indecent liberties with a child."
Prosecutors plan to seek a 30-year sentence to ensure that if Pescrillo, a repeat offender, gets out of prison, he will be old, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office. But defense lawyer Joseph F. Devlin said he will ask North to sentence Pescrillo to "much less than 30 years."
Advancements in technology since the assault in 1989 have enabled police and researchers to create genetic profiles that can be matched, with a high rate of accuracy, against genetic information in police databases.