The Salt Lake County Jail in South Salt Lake is pictured on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
DNA evidence led to criminal charges
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man was charged Wednesday with raping a woman who had asked him for a ride more than four years ago. The charges were filed after prosecutors obtained new DNA evidence.
Miguel Angel Bernardino, 31, of Salt Lake City, is charged in 3rd District Court with rape, forcible sodomy, and aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies; plus assault, a class B misdemeanor. A no bail warrant was issued Wednesday for his arrest.
On Nov. 23, 2016, a woman who had just finished visiting her boyfriend at the Salt Lake County Jail was sitting at a bus stop at 3300 South and 900 West when Bernardino pulled up, according to charging documents. The woman asked Bernardino if he could give her a ride to a nearby TRAX station.
Bernardino agreed, but then allegedly drove the woman to an area behind a business and parked his SUV. He then started punching the woman in the head, flipped her over onto her stomach and continued punching her in the back of the head, according to the charges.
The woman screamed and cried and told Bernardino she would not fight him. He then proceeded to rape her, the charges state.
“When Bernardino was done, he got back into the driver’s seat and told (the woman) to lay down and not look up,” according to the charging documents.
He drove for a few minutes, then opened the passenger door and pushed the woman into the snow, police said.
The woman received a sexual assault examination at a local hospital and a DNA sample was submitted to the Utah State Crime Lab. On May 6, 2020, the lab announced that a match to a suspect had been found in a national criminal DNA database. Police served a search warrant on Bernardino to obtain a DNA sample and a second test confirmed the results, according to the charges.
After the alleged rape in November 2016, Bernardino was charged in June 2017 with aggravated assault in another case, according to court records. He was later convicted and sentenced to up to five years in the Utah State Prison.
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News