Prosecutor: DNA evidence links soldier to Colo., Ala. assaults
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Prosecutors say the case against a Fort Carson officer accused of preying on young girls in El Paso County and Alabama has been fortified with new evidence: DNA linking him to victims in both states.
First Lt. Aaron Lucas — an artillery officer who received the Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan — is suspected of luring or trying to lure at least 15 young girls into his vehicle in El Paso County since 2009, authorities have said.
At least two girls were sexually assaulted in Colorado Springs, according to previously filed charges, though court records are under seal and few other details have been released.
Court records show Lucas also is accused of exposing his genitals, masturbating in front of children, and attempting to sexually assault children.
Prosecutor Kelson Chastain said at a court hearing Thursday that evidence gathered by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation into a 9-year-old girl’s June abduction yielded traces of Lucas’ DNA.
Chastain said the same DNA profile was found to match that of a man who abducted and sexually assaulted a girl in Madison, Ala., in 2007 — a case that had gone unsolved until Colorado authorities reported their discovery in the Combined DNA index system, or CODIS, a national law enforcement database.
Although Lucas isn’t charged with sexually assaulting the 9-year-old, there is a possibility more charges could be filed in her abduction, Chastain told the court. El Paso County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Roybal previously said the girl was forced into a vehicle and later dropped off in another neighborhood.
Roybal declined to provide further details Thursday, saying the office expects to announce new information in the case soon.
Lucas, 31, was initially arrested in October, two weeks after a Fountain police officer pulled him over in a vehicle matching a description given by luring victims. Several girls later picked Lucas’ photo from a line-up, authorities said.
Fountain police Sgt. Scott Gilbertson said Lucas could be responsible for luring attempts involving as many as 20 girls across the Pike Peak Region — half of them targeting girls under 12 living in Fountain, Gilbertson said.
In at least one case, a girl told investigators the man had offered her ice cream if she would get in, Gilbertson added.
The recently established DNA link was disclosed at a brief court hearing Thursday to address bond related to the Alabama sex-assault case. That issue was postponed by a judge, however, after prosecutors announced they intend to file a written request to raise Lucas’ bond based on the new DNA evidence.
Lucas — a slight man at 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds — appeared in court wearing an El Paso County jail jumpsuit and sporting a stubbly growth on his otherwise shaved head and face.
He will remain in the El Paso County jail until his bond is addressed on Jan. 18, which is also the day of a pre-trial hearing that will more fully detail the allegations against him.
His defense attorney, Ted McClintock of Colorado Springs, said in court that he had been informed by prosecutors that Lucas could face new charges in other states but that he hadn’t received details.
McClintock told the court he does not believe Alabama authorities will immediately move for extradition. That suggests Lucas is likely to remain in Colorado to be prosecuted.
Authorities say the crime pattern began in 2009, shortly after Lucas’s move to the area with Fort Carson’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
A field artilleryman from Huntsville, Ala., Lucas enlisted in the Army Reserve in March 2007 and transferred to the Alabama Army National Guard a year and a half later, according to Ray Gall, with Army Human Resources Command. Lucas later transferred to active duty and received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant in June 2009. He was transferred to Fort Carson in November of that year.