Dog Race Musher, 59, sentenced to 37 years in prison for rape and kidnapping in 2001 after DNA match

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A former dog race musher who fled to the Philippines when cold case detectives questioned him about a rape and kidnapping in 2001 has been found guilty of the crimes and sentenced to 37 years in prison.

Carmen Perzechino, 59, was linked to the brutal attack on Anna Sattler, then 30, in 2019, when detectives finally linked his DNA to samples taken in a rape kit.

Sattler had to jump out of a moving vehicle to escape his clutches.

Perzechino was approached by state police in January 2019 to answer questions about the rape and two weeks later he booked a return ticket to the Philippines and skipped the return flight.

He was tracked down by the Philippine authorities in April 2019 and extradited to Alaska.

The Sterling, Alaska resident was convicted of two first-degree sexual assault and once for kidnapping in November.

He was convicted Monday after a three-week jury trial on Zoom, the state’s first video conference against the pandemic.

Carmen Perzechino, 59, was convicted of two first-degree sexual assault and one time for kidnapping

Carmen Perzechino, 59, was convicted of two first-degree sexual assault and one time for kidnapping

According to the State of Alaska Department of Law, in January 2001 Anna Sattler, then 30, met Perzechino at a bar in Soldotna, Alaska when he offered her a ride home.

Perzechino then raped Sattler in his van parked along a stretch of highway on the Kenai Peninsula, chasing her every time she tried to escape.

Sattler said Perzechino was driving then her down the Sterling Highway, refused to let her out of his car while threatening to kill her.

Sattler eventually jumped out of the moving vehicle to escape.

State troopers collected DNA from Sattler using an assault kit, but it was not sent to the State Crime Lab for DNA testing.

According to standard practice at the time, there had to be an identified suspect for direct comparison with the DNA collected in the sexual assault kit.

Investigators could not identify the suspect or the vehicle involved in the attack and the case was closed in 2002 and went cold for nearly two decades.

Sattler (top right photo, left) is pictured at trial in November 2020. He was convicted Monday after a three-week jury trial of Zoom, the state's first video conference against the pandemic.

Sattler (top right photo, left) is pictured at trial in November 2020. He was convicted Monday after a three-week jury trial of Zoom, the state's first video conference against the pandemic.

Sattler (top right photo, left) is pictured at trial in November 2020. He was convicted Monday after a three-week jury trial of Zoom, the state’s first video conference against the pandemic.

But in 2018, through the state’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, hundreds of previously untested rape kits were processed and compared with modern databases.

The DNA collected from Sattler matched a smear that Perzechino gave to police in 2012 when he was charged with soliciting a prostitute.

“Thanks to the SAKI project and thorough follow-up investigation, we were finally able to identify a suspect and hold him responsible for his regrettable actions,” said Colonel Bryan Barlow, director of the Alaska State Troopers.

After being approached by a state soldier in 2019 to answer questions about the case, Perzechino escaped to the Philippines, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

He was charged in March 2019, and in April 2019, Filipino officials succeeded Perzechino in Angeles City, Pampanga, where he was arrested at the request of the US Embassy.

‘People like him are not welcome in our country. If he did that in the US, there is a possibility that he would commit the same crime in the Philippines, ”Philippines immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said at the time.

During its trial, the former dog musician said he did not remember anyone jumping out of his car and that the only person he’d had sex with around the time of the sexual assault was his wife.

A second Alaskan woman, who said she was a victim of Perzechino in 2016, was called to testify against him in court.

The woman, who has not waived her right to anonymity, said she was similarly attacked along the Sterling Highway four years ago.

She said Perzechino offered her the chance to come and help him and his girlfriend around the house for a few days.

Perzechino’s ex-wife also testified against him, saying that on the night in question he told her that a woman had jumped from his car, but he did not tell her about the sexual assault.

In 2004, Perzechino ran the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the annual long-distance race from Anchorage to Nome. The defense asked the jury to consider why a rapist would submit himself to the nationwide spotlight of the match.

Sattler grew up in the native Yup’ik communities of Western Alaska.

At the end of the trial, she expressed relief that the ordeal was over.

“This has been haunting me for nearly twenty years,” she said. ‘Finally justice has caught up with him. I hope that now I can put this behind me and get on with my life. ‘