LIVERMORE (CBS SF) -- A Livermore man being tried for two 1997 cold case rapes has died from injuries sustained in a suicide attempt with a nail gun, the Alameda County District Attorney announced Friday.
In a press release issued Friday afternoon, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley said the preliminary hearing against cold case rape defendant Gregory Paul Vien had been halted earlier this month when he was hospitalized following a suicide attempt where he shot himself several times with a nail gun. O'Malley said Vien succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.
Vien has been implicated by DNA testing in the May 6, 1997, attack of a woman as she walked to BART after work. She was dragged to a secluded area where she was sexually assaulted. Union City Police detectives were able to obtain a sample of the suspect's DNA from the victim's clothing.
On September 7, 1997, Vien allegedly attacked a second victim while she was on a walk near Livermore High School. She was sexually assaulted and the Livermore Police Department was able to collect a DNA sample from the crime scene.
The DNA samples from both crime scenes were analyzed in a timely manner, and found to be a match to each other, meaning that law enforcement knew that the same person was responsible for both assaults.
The samples were uploaded to CODIS, the national DNA data base. However, no "hit" was made at the time to determine the identity of the assailant.
In 2019, Livermore police detectives developed additional leads through a genetic genealogical search in their quest to solve the 22-year-old sexual assault crimes.
Those leads enabled investigators to focus on Vien. Detectives followed Vien and were able to obtain a plastic spoon he had used with his DNA on it. The sample identified him as the assailant in both crimes.
Both crimes were solved in 2019 through DNA. The defendant was charged with multiple felony sexual assault charges on November 4, 2019. He was arrested November 5, 2019 and held in Santa Rita Jail.
In April, 2020 Vien was released by the Court due to COVID-19 concerns, over the objection of the District Attorney's Office and police.
According to the latest press release from O'Malley, the preliminary hearing in the case began November 12. Both victim-survivors testified in open court with the defendant and his attorney present.
The press release stated that second victim was scheduled to complete her testimony on November 13 when the court learned that Vien was hospitalized following the suicide attempt.
The release said that Vien tried to kill himself with a nail gun. A week later on November 19, Vien died from his self-inflicted injuries.
With the defendant dead, O'Malley's office said the case must be dismissed.
"The survivors of these sexual assaults showed great courage in coming to court to face the man who attacked and terrorized them 23 years ago. Both women lived for all these years without knowing who assaulted her or seeing him brought to justice," O'Malley said in the release. "The police agencies never stopped investigating these heinous crimes in order to keep the victim-survivors and the communities of Livermore and Union City safe. We applaud their dedication, tenacity and the excellent investigative work that led to the arrest of and charges against Gregory Paul Vien."
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