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Rapist Convicted With DNA Evidence From '73

A jury took less than two hours Wednesday to convict a man of raping a woman 32 years ago at knifepoint — a verdict made possible by DNA technology that did not exist when the suspect escaped conviction in the 1970s.

Fletcher Anderson Worrell, 58, was found guilty of rape and robbery in the 1973 attack on Kathleen Ham in her Manhattan apartment.

Ham, 58, a lawyer who lives in California, testified in chilling detail about the attack; she asked that her name be made public to show she is not ashamed.

Worrell could get 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison on each of the two counts at sentencing Nov. 28.

"I feel very, very vindicated. I feel a wrong has been righted," Ham said at a news conference.

Worrell's original trial in the case, in 1974, ended with a hung jury, and he was convicted a year later in Queens in a separate attack. That conviction was reversed. Prosecutors said Worrell jumped bail while awaiting retrial on the two rape cases.

He was arrested last year in DeKalb County, Ga., after he tried to buy a shotgun, prosecutors say. When authorities did a background check, the New York bail-jump warrants surfaced and he was arrested.

District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Worrell is wanted in connection with 21 sex attacks in Maryland and at least two in New Jersey through 1993. He said he obtained orders for DNA samples to be taken from Worrell so those states can investigate.

Juror Robert L. Jones said the panel reached its verdict because of the DNA evidence and the testimony of police officers who said they saw Worrell in the apartment and chased him out of the building after the attack.