Man gets 25 years for raping UAA student

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for raping and choking a 19-year-old student at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Michael Arthur Stephan, 35, pleaded no contest in Superior Court to the charges and was sentenced Thursday. The attack occurred last September.

Judge Dan Hensley sentenced Stephan to nearly the maximum sentenced.

DNA evidence proved crucial in the case. When the assault occurred, an innocent man, Joseph Coolidge, was initially charged after being wrongly identified by witnesses as the attacker.

Coolidge was later set free when police realized his DNA was not a match for DNA evidence taken when the attack occurred. Police then ran the DNA evidence found in the victim through a database and got a match.

Stephan's DNA was in the database for a 1997 assault conviction.

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