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Press Release

Sterling Man Sentenced to Serve Thirty-Seven Years for 2001 Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

March 23, 2021

(Kenai, AK) – On Monday, March 22, 2021, Judge Jennifer Wells sentenced 59-year-old Carmen Perzechino to serve a total of thirty-seven years in prison for sexually assaulting and kidnapping a woman in 2001. Perzchino’s sentence followed his conviction after a three-week jury trial in October 2020 for two counts of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of kidnapping.

In January 2001, A.S., an Anchorage woman, reported to the Alaska State Troopers that a male sexually assaulted her in his vehicle after offering to give her a ride from a Soldotna bar. The woman reported that after the sexual assault, the male refused to let her leave his vehicle and instead drove her along the Sterling Highway while threatening to kill her. The woman jumped from Perzechino’s moving vehicle when she saw a Department of Transportation worker on the side of the road. Perzechino drove off after A.S. jumped from his moving vehicle.

Troopers responded and conducted a sexual assault response callout, which included the collection of a sexual assault kit from A.S.’s body. Troopers investigated the matter in 2001 but were unable to identify a suspect or the vehicle used in the assault. Due to standard practice at the time, the sexual assault kit was not sent to the State Crime Lab for DNA testing in 2001 because there was not an identified suspect whose DNA could be directly compared to the DNA collected in the sex assault kit.

As part of a federal grant under the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”) Program initiated in 2016, the Alaska State Troopers tested all of the Troopers’ untested sexual assault kits, including the 2001 kit collected from A.S. Alaska State Trooper Investigator Michael Burkmire investigated the matter as part of the SAKI project. Perzechino was established as a suspect based on the DNA results of this testing and Investigator Burkmire’s investigation further solidified Perzechino as a suspect.

When contacted in 2019, the victim of the assault, A.S., agreed to go forward with prosecution of the case, despite the time that had passed. In testifying before a grand jury and at trial, A.S. showed incredible bravery and resilience. At sentencing, Judge Wells acknowledged A.S.’s strength and courage throughout the process.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Wells heard statements from A.S. and argument from both sides’ lawyers. Judge Wells noted that sexual assaults and kidnappings grievously harm victims and public safety. In weighing various criteria, she placed the greatest emphasis on the need to confine Perzechino to prevent further harm to the public. As required by the law, Judge Wells sentenced Perzechino pursuant to the sentencing laws and ranges that were in effect at the time of the incident. She sentenced Perzechino to serve a total of 37 years in prison, with an additional 15 years of suspended time. Perzechino will be on probation for 10 years and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

"The SAKI project and thorough follow-up investigation allowed us to finally identify a suspect and hold him accountable for his deplorable actions,” said Col. Bryan Barlow, Director of the Alaska State Troopers. “The Alaska State Troopers and the DPS Crime Lab will continue to pursue ways to bring cases, especially those involving violent crimes against people, as far as science, technique, and investigative tenacity allow us.”

CONTACT: Chief Assistant Attorney Jenna Gruenstein at (907) 269-6250 or at jenna.gruenstein@alaska.gov.

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Department Media Contact: Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr or Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Rand.