The defendant was charged after DNA was matched to the sexual assault kit
NEW ORLEANS – This week, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (OPDA) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Unit Chief Mary Glass and Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Naomi Jones secured the cold case conviction of defendant Roland Butler for kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault in 1996.
“The trauma and suffering that this victim has endured for over twenty years finally received closure. I hope that this conviction will send a loud message to violent offenders that we will not stop in our pursuit of justice,” said District Attorney Jason Williams. “The people of this city can rest assured that this office will continue doing everything we can to hold predators accountable and protect the neighborhoods of New Orleans.”
The defendant’s attack on the victim occurred in 1996 and the case ran cold until a CODIS hit linked Mr. Butler’s DNA to the sexual assault kit. In August of 2018, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Detective Kevin Richardson located and swabbed the defendant. The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab confirmed Mr. Butler’s DNA matched the kit and he was indicted in October 2018.
SAKI Unit Chief Mary Glass said, “This case is proof that justice does not have an expiration date. In court, 26 years after the assault, it was clear how this crime still affects the survivor. She testified in court that time has not erased the memory of what she endured and how the incident left her looking at the world with a jaded lens. We are glad to be able to finally secure justice for this survivor and her family.”
During the trial, the survivor testified how the use of a gun to control her made her feel ‘powerless and numb.’ Additionally, the survivor talked about how she is hopeful that all rape kits will be tested.
The conviction took place in Section G of Criminal District Court; Judge Nandi Campbell presided. The defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole or suspension of sentence.
Since 2020, amidst the pandemic and hurricane shutdowns, OPDA’s SAKI Division has secured 29 guilty pleas for various sexual assault cases. Additionally, SAKI Unit Chief Glass and ADA Jones secured the conviction of defendant William McDonough for rape in September 2016. The SAKI Unit continues to hold perpetrators accountable for crimes committed in the past.
As part of DA Williams’ request to Mayor Cantrell and the New Orleans City Council for additional funding, DA Williams specifically asked for support with OPDA’s Cold Case work and DNA testing. This conviction is proof that additional investment in Cold Case work, DNA testing and a CODIS Hit Manager can pay immediate dividends to not only solve new crimes, but help OPDA bring closure to victims and families by solving more cold cases.