Chilean found guilty in Colo. student’s slaying |

Chilean found guilty in Colo. student’s slaying

BOULDER – A jury on Friday convicted a Chilean national in the 1997 beating death of a University of Colorado student, a crime that was cold for about a decade until a DNA sample connected him to the murder.

Jurors took half a day to convict Diego Olmos Alcalde, 39, of first-degree murder, sexual assault and kidnapping.

He had submitted the DNA sample while in a Wyoming prison, and he was arrested last year in the slaying of Susannah Chase of Stamford, Conn.

Chase, a 23-year-old college student, was attacked on a Boulder street corner and dumped in an alley while walking home alone from a pizza parlor.

Olmos Alcalde originally denied knowing Chase or having been to Boulder in decades. But he changed his story at trial, saying he had consensual sex with Chase.

Olmos Alcalde kept his head down as the verdicts were read, while some Chase family members quietly wept.

After Olmos Alcalde was led away, Chase’s mother told reporters her family was pleased with the verdict but continues to mourn her daughter’s death.

“It doesn’t seem like this ends anything,” Julie Chase said. “It’s a relief, as some have suggested, but it’s not a relief for the loss to the family.”

The defense says it plans to appeal.

During 10 days of testimony, jurors heard from Olmos Alcalde’s half-sister, Ona Bayers, and his ex-girlfriend, Sonci Francis.

Both women told jurors that days after Chase’s death, Olmos Alcalde described a similar attack. Only in Olmos Alcalde’s story, the victim was a man he got into a fight with at a bar, the women said.

Jurors also heard from the victim in the Wyoming kidnapping case, who described how Olmos Alcalde in 2000 followed her home, then attacked her in a parking lot and tried to drag her away to a secluded area. Her family, who was nearby, came to her rescue.

Chase had left a pizzeria after an argument with her boyfriend and was attacked a block from her home on Dec. 21, 1997. She died the next day in a hospital – the same day she was supposed to fly home to Connecticut for Christmas.

Olmos Alcalde was not among the suspects just after the slaying, when police interviewed hundreds of people, including Chase’s boyfriend, and took DNA samples from at least 50 men. No matches were made and leads in the case eventually fizzled out.

DNA was first collected from Olmos Alcalde in 2001 after the Wyoming kidnapping conviction.

After years of appeals, a new trial in the Wyoming case and a long wait caused by a backlog of thousands of samples in Wyoming’s state lab, Olmos Alcalde’s DNA profile was uploaded into a national DNA database in January 2008. He was arrested within days.

Sentencing for Olmos Alcalde is set for Monday. He faces a life term.

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