Monday, Sept. 21, 2009 | 5:44 p.m.
A man accused of raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in 1994 could face the death penalty.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas told District Court Judge Elissa Cadish today that his office intends to seek capital punishment for Gregory Wallen in the death of Diana Hernandez.
Wallen, 37, pleaded not guilty on Sept. 17 but was back in court Monday to schedule a trial date. Cadish set the trial for Sept. 7, 2010.
A jury will decide if Wallen is guilty and whether he should die by lethal injection.
Metro Police found Hernandez’s naked body in a box in a trash bin at her apartment complex on April 3, 1994, the day after her mother reported her missing.
Hernandez was suffocated and sexually assaulted, according to the coroner’s report.
Detectives initially suspected her mother’s boyfriend but DNA that was found didn't match his.
Wallen wasn't a suspect at the time and even joined in the door-to-door search of the Sandpiper Apartment complex, 3955 Algonquin Ave., near Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway, where Hernandez lived. The case went cold for 15 years.
In January of this year, detectives re-examined the case and discovered that Wallen since had been convicted of sexual assault and was a registered sex offender.
A search of apartment records showed Wallen lived downstairs from Hernandez and her family.
Police have said the DNA and a partial fingerprint lifted from the box she was found in matched Wallen.