Man sentenced to life in prison after DNA connects him to cold case rapes

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DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston applauds the three young rape victims who took the stand against Dominic Lawton Friday.

"It was not easy for them, it never is for sexual assault victims but they decided it was important to speak up and tell the jury all the horrendous the things he did to them," Boston told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.

The 33-year-old Ocilla native was convicted Friday, then sentenced to three life sentences plus ten years for sexually assaulting women at two DeKalb County parks in 2016. Boston said the women were just 17, 18, and 21 years old when they were assaulted after meeting Lawton on an adult dating website.

"These folks are prime victims for people like Dominic Lawton because they think they're going snatch you up and rape you because no one's going to believe you because this is what you do," Boston said.

In October 2016, DeKalb County Police on patrol in Exchange Park actually caught Lawton assaulting the 17-year-old at gunpoint in his pickup truck. When Lawton was arrested, that was the first time investigators could identify him with other rapes.

According to the district attorney, just a few days before the Exchange Park attack, Lawton raped the 21-year-old year old at gunpoint in Mason Mill Park. She reported the crime at DeKalb Medical Center--just like the 18-year-old who Lawton raped a month earlier at Exchange Park. Boston said the DNA collected from all three crimes matched, but investigators didn't know that until the Cold Case Sexual Task Force recently connected the dots. Boston said a recent federal grant from the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is helping investigators evaluate back-logged sexual assault kits.

"This team is dedicated and has the time and energy it takes to prosecute old sexual assault cases and even locate victims. This work is so important and the funding is critical," Boston said. We want to send a message that no one deserves to be raped and we want to send a message to the Dominic Lawtons of the world that will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," Boston said.

Authorities said Lawton's DNA is connected to a cold-case rape in Tifton County and to a fourth victim in DeKalb County who died before her case was solved.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he raped other women who never came forward fearing no one would believe them," Boston said.

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