BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a Chilean national in the 1997 beating death of a University of Colorado student.
The case had gone cold for about a decade until a DNA sample connected Diego Olmos Alcalde, 39, to the unsolved murder of Susannah Chase of Stamford, Conn. The 23-year-old student was attacked on a street corner and dumped in an alley while walking home alone from a pizza parlor.
Jurors took half a day to convict Olmos Alcalde of first-degree murder, sexual assault and kidnapping. He had submitted the DNA sample while in a Wyoming prison.
Olmos Alcalde originally denied knowing Chase or having been to Boulder in decades. But he changed his story at trial, saying he had consensual sex with Chase.
Olmos Alcalde kept his head down as the verdicts were read, while some Chase family members quietly wept.
After Olmos Alcalde was led away, Chase’s mother told reporters that the family was pleased with the verdict but continues to mourn the student’s death.
“It doesn’t seem like this ends anything,” Julie Chase said. “It’s a relief, as some have suggested, but it’s not a relief for the loss to the family.”
During 10 days of testimony, jurors heard from Olmos Alcalde’s half-sister, Ona Bayers, and his ex-girlfriend, Sonci Francis.
Both women told jurors that days after Chase’s death, Olmos Alcalde described a similar attack. Only in Olmos Alcalde’s story the victim was a man he got into a fight with at a bar, the women said.
Jurors also heard from the victim in the Wyoming kidnapping case, who described how Olmos Alcalde in 2000 followed her home, then attacked her in a parking lot and tried to drag her away to a secluded area. Her family, who was nearby, came to her rescue.
Chase had left a pizzeria after an argument with her boyfriend and was attacked a block from her home on Dec. 21, 1997. She died the next day in a hospital — the same day she was supposed to fly home to Connecticut for Christmas.
Olmos Alcalde was not among the suspects just after the slaying, when police interviewed hundreds of people, including Chase’s boyfriend, and took DNA samples from at least 50 men. No matches were made and leads in the case eventually fizzled out.
DNA was first collected from Olmos Alcalde in 2001 after the Wyoming kidnapping conviction.
After years of appeals, a new trial in the Wyoming case and a long wait caused by a backlog of thousands of samples in Wyoming’s state lab, Olmos Alcalde’s DNA profile was uploaded into a national DNA database in January 2008. He was arrested within days.
Sentencing for Olmos Alcalde is set for Monday. He faces a life term.

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