Newly uncovered DNA evidence yields dismissed indictment against man previously convicted of sexual assault

An indictment against a Middlesex County man who was awaiting a retrial for a sexual assault that occurred in Elizabeth in 2002 has been dismissed after the examination of newly uncovered DNA evidence, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

A state Superior Court judge earlier this week granted a joint motion to dismiss that had been filed by the Prosecutor’s Office and the attorney representing Anthony Chaparro, 60, of Perth Amboy. Chaparro was released on his own recognizance late last month, shortly after investigators preparing to retry the case against him began reexamining physical evidence following the granting of a post-conviction relief petition filed in the Appellate Division earlier in the year (the petition did not address physical evidence).

Elizabeth police officers encountered the victim in the case on Newark Avenue on a morning in September 2002. A subsequent investigation revealed that she had been physically and sexually assaulted by an unknown suspect earlier that morning on a nearby sidewalk.

An initial forensic laboratory examination of physical evidence did not reveal the presence of any DNA. Chaparro was identified as a suspect in the case later in the month, after which the victim selected him out of a photo array as the man who had assaulted her.

Chaparro was indicted in January 2003 and convicted at trial seven months later. When his petition for post-conviction relief was granted earlier this year, his convictions were vacated and a new trial was scheduled. Shortly thereafter, Union County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory staff reported that DNA retrieval techniques utilized today are more effective than those that were available to investigators in 2002, and a fresh examination of the physical evidence in the case was ordered by the Prosecutor’s Office.

DNA subsequently was obtained from the physical evidence, and it did not match that of Chaparro.

The investigation into the September 2002 sexual assault has been reopened and is currently active.