Las Vegas Sun

August 1, 2014

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DNA mixup found, rape cases dropped

Charges have been dismissed against a Las Vegas man accused of sexual assault after it was discovered that clerical errors occurred in Metro Police's forensic lab.

Lazaro Sotolusson was linked to two unsolved sexual assault cases after his cellmate at the North Las Vegas Detention Center accused him of rape and DNA samples were obtained and run through a computer database.

However, District Attorney Stewart Bell said this morning that authorities recently learned that the DNA samples from Sotolusson and his cellmate were switched when entered into the computer.

The error was detected by an expert retained by Deputy Public Defenders Brigid Hoffman and Darin Imlay.

As a result, it appears as though the cellmate is not a victim of sexual assault, but may be the suspect in the two unsolved cases, Bell said.

Charges have been dismissed against Sotolusson in all three cases, and prosecutors are looking at charging the cellmate in the two unsolved crimes.

The charges were likely dismissed in the jail rape case this morning because there are now serious credibility issues surrounding the cellmate, Bell said.

Sotolusson was in jail on immigration and a variety of other crimes at the time he was charged with raping the two girls, Bell said.

"Both of these men were in jail on several other charges, so it's not like anyone was in jail unnecessarily," Bell said. "But, we never like to file charges when it later turns out they aren't good. The good news is these bad charges were weeded out."

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