Suspect's DNA a match in Provo rape case; charges sought

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PROVO -- The man accused of beating and raping a woman along a trail in Provo appeared in court Friday.

Provo police had previously confirmed they had physical evidence against Shawn Leonard, accused of the crime. Now officials say Leonard's DNA is a match to evidence found at the crime scene.

Prosecutors are now seeking charges of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated sexual assault.

"The fact is the victim sustained such damage, she'll be lucky to regain her vision," said prosecutor Craig Johnson. "She's got a lot of surgeries in front of her."

Documents filed by Provo police in court Friday called the attack "especially heinous, atrocious, cruel and [in] an exceptionally depraved manner."

That's how prosecutors describe the 19-year-old woman three weeks after the brutal attack, near her home at the Branbury Apartments. She also lost four teeth in the attack and was hospitalized for nearly two weeks.

Documents filed by Provo police in court Friday called the attack "especially heinous, atrocious, cruel and [in] an exceptionally depraved manner."

The documents also say DNA tests show Leonard was responsible for raping the woman, who was left unconscious but eventually managed to crawl back to the trail where she was found two-and-a-half hours after the attack.

"The community has been essentially paralyzed and held hostage by Mr. Leonard while the identity of this rapist and attacker was unknown," Johnson said. "Coming up on the holiday weekend, this should bring a lot of relief to the community that we know we have the right person behind bars."

Leonard was serving jail time for theft and had just been cleared to begin a work release program at the Utah County Jail. He walked away from custody the next day.

The attack happened the day after he escaped, and he was apprehended 36 hours later.

A judge increased Leonard's bail to half a million dollars Friday morning. He will be formally charged on Wednesday. If convicted, Leonard would face at least 25 years and possibly the rest of his life in prison.


Story compiled with contributions from Sam Penrod and Marc Giauque.

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