An Arizona Court of Appeals decision in two Tucson rape cases could mean hundreds of suspects arrested in cold cases may never face trial, reports the Arizona Daily Star. The Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the charges against two men accused of rape in 1994 should be thrown out because they weren’t indicted until this year, long after the statute of limitations had run out.
The men were linked to the crimes by DNA tests. The Court of Appeals ruled the statute of limitations in nearly all felony cases begins to run as soon as a crime is committed, not when a suspect is identified. In 1997, state law was revised to abolish the statute of limitations in rapes. As a result, Thursday’s decision will not affect defendants accused of sexual assaults that occurred after Jan. 1, 1997.