NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On December 9, New Brunswick resident Bruce Sterling, age 44, was found guilty of breaking into the Richardson Street home of a 21-year old Rutgers student and sexually assaulting her at gunpoint over 12 years ago.
After deliberating for about two hours over the course of two days, a jury sitting in New Brunswick found Sterling guilty of burglary while armed, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, terroristic threats, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and aggravated assault with a weapon.
Sterling is scheduled to be sentenced on February 16. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
The crime occurred on July 13, 2002. Sterling was not linked to the crime until three years later when he was apprehended by North Brunswick police in an unrelated case and found to match a DNA sample from the crime scene.
Sterling was previously found guilty in the attack, but appealed to the state Supreme Court and was granted a new trial.
He was originally convicted in January 2007, but a state court later reversed the decision in August 2011 because it was decided court errors had denied Sterling a fair trial.
A three-judge panel came to this conclusion on the grounds that the by allowing the prosecution to join burglary charges with Sterling’s sexual assault trial and allowing evidence from a previous crime to be used, the court denied him his right to a fair trial.
During Sterling’s trial on December 2, Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christie L. Bevacqua presented evidence, including DNA evidence, which linked Sterling to the 2002 attack.
Sterling has been convicted in two other cases and is already serving a 40-year prison term.