NorCal Rapist case delayed again over DNA evidence fight

NorCal Rapist suspect Roy Charles Waller, who was scheduled to face a preliminary hearing next month over allegations that he assaulted nine women over a 15-year crime spree, has been postponed again.

Waller, 59, had been expected to face a preliminary hearing Oct. 2 in Sacramento Superior Court on 45 felony counts linked to the crime spree, which terrorized women from 1991 through 2006 in six Northern California counties: Sacramento, Butte, Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo.

But that hearing has been scrapped so that attorneys in the case can litigate over whether prosecutors have provided enough DNA evidence to the defense yet. That hearing is now set for Oct. 2.

“There are some issues with DNA material we have been seeking that haven’t been made available to us,” Waller attorney Joseph Farina said after a brief hearing Thursday. “It’s an issue of what we’re entitled to.”

That included DNA material from a rape case out of the city of Sonoma. Farina said prosecutors have results of newer DNA testing that excluded Waller from the Sonoma case but haven’t turned the results over to Farina’s team to conduct their own comparisons.

“We want that (material) to compare” to other cases, Farina said.

Farina has added two DNA attorneys to his team, veteran DNA counsel Guy Leighton and Erica Graves, to pore over the evidence: 15 compact discs, hundreds of pages of documents, an estimated 2 terabytes of material.

Evidence in the cases is being analyzed at crime labs of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and the state Department of Justice.

“We really need more time,” Farina said. “It’s turning out to be a complicated picture.”

Waller, who has been held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail since his arrest one year ago, was living in Benicia with is wife and working as a safety specialist at UC Berkeley.

He had never been a suspect in the case until 10 days before his September 2018 arrest, which came about through the same DNA sleuthing that Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office used to arrest Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist suspect Joseph James DeAngelo five months earlier.

In both cases, investigators used DNA evidence from the attacks and fed it into open-source genealogical databases to pinpoint possible relatives of the attackers. From there, they built a “family tree” of each suspect until they identified potential suspects, then went to their homes and surreptitiously collected discarded soda cans and other items to obtain the suspects’ DNA.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.
Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.