Judge sentences man convicted of rape in Cedar City cold case dating back to 2004

Composite image. Background: 5th District Courthouse, Cedar City, Utah, April 15, 2021. File photo by Jeff Richards. Inset: Arizona inmate David Louis Slade appears in court via videoconference on Aug. 2, 2022 | Screenshot image courtesy of 5th District Court, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — An Arizona man who pleaded guilty to raping a Cedar City woman in an incident dating back to 2004, has been sentenced to prison in connection with that case.

Arizona inmate David Louis Slade appears in court via videoconference on Aug. 2, 2022 | Screenshot image courtesy of 5th District Court, St. George News / Cedar City News

Appearing via videoconference before 5th District Court Judge Ann Marie McIff Allen on Tuesday afternoon, David Louis Slade, 61, entered a guilty plea to one count of rape and received a sentence of five years to life, which is the maximum penalty for a first-degree felony in Utah. 

Because Slade is already serving a 15-year sentence for a similar rape conviction in Arizona, he will serve his time in Arizona prison system for both cases concurrently, Allen said as she imposed the sentence.

As previously reported in St. George News / Cedar City News, Slade, of Eagar, Arizona, was arrested in early January 2020 by authorities in Arizona after familial DNA testing identified him as the primary suspect in two separate but similar rape cases. One incident occurred near Flagstaff, Arizona, in April 2003 and another in Cedar City in July 2004. 

In both instances, a woman around the age of 18 had reported that an unknown man had entered her residence and had sexually assaulted her. 

Investigators in each of the cases submitted DNA evidence to a national database; it was only after that point that the cases were linked, as the results indicated that both samples were from the same person. 

But even though the DNA samples from the two cases matched each other, there was no information in the database linking them to a named individual. With no leads on a potential suspect, the cases went cold for approximately 15 years. 

Then, in 2019, more advanced DNA testing was ordered to be performed on the samples. Two potential familial matches on the suspect’s paternal side were identified, which in turn pointed to Slade as the suspected perpetrator. A subsequent test of Slade’s own DNA then reportedly matched the samples collected at both crime scenes.

In his remarks during Tuesday’s hearing, Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson said the case had “about as frightening a fact pattern as you can imagine.” 

“The victim in this case in 2004 had just gotten out of the shower when the defendant, who was a truck driver at the time just passing through town, found a target, walked into the home and threatened and raped her,” Dotson said. “He did the exact same thing to a victim in Arizona, which he is now serving a prison sentence for.”

“These are horrific crimes,” Dotson added. “Luckily, through the advancement of technology and different breakthroughs in investigations, we were able to bring justice and find Mr. Slade, and hopefully bring closure to the victim in this case.”

Dotson also read aloud a statement from the 2004 victim, who said she is still haunted by memories of the attack. The statement said, in part:

Soon after the incident, I had to move out of state and try to get away from the fear of him coming back and doing it again. I have not been able to go to bed without lights on and noise in the room to distract my mind. It has taken years for me to be able to take a shower when I am home alone. I was not able to go anywhere in public by myself, in fear that he would find and follow me again. Still, to this day, I have terrible nightmares about the day and how much it hurts my mental and emotional health. When I received the call that they had arrested him after 15 years, it started the nightmares over again.

Dotson said the woman, who is now in her mid-30s, does not want Slade ever to be released from prison.

“I fear that he has done this to other women prior,” Dotson said as he continued reading from the woman’s statement. “I fear that if he is not locked up for a very long time, he will do it to others. And I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I have and still am going through. I do not think 15 years is long enough for the pain and suffering he has caused my life. He deserves no luxuries where he’s going.”

Before she imposed the sentence, Allen then gave Slade a chance to address the court.

Slade started by saying he himself had been raped by a cousin when he was 8 years old. He also admitted to having been “strung out on drugs” for years.

“But I’m not going to sit here and try to make excuses for what happened,” he said. “That’s not my intention.”

“If I could take the hurt back from those two girls, I would,” Slade added. “I know it was a long time ago, but yes, they gave me 15 years in prison. I can promise you this: I’ve been in prison since two days after it happened. I sobered up and realized what I’d done. I stayed away from my family all those years. I didn’t get close to anybody. I never remarried again after that, because I knew this day was coming.”

“Like I said, I wish I could take it all back but I just can’t,” he said, adding that he hopes his 15-year prison term will help give both women some peace.

“I really don’t know what else to say, but that I am sorry it happened,” Slade added. “I’m sorry that everybody had to go through what they did. It’s my fault. I should have got help when I was a kid.”

“I want to serve the sentence and pay for the crimes that I’ve done,” Slade said as he concluded his remarks. “I don’t want to go to my grave knowing that I didn’t pay for what I’ve done.”

Allen then responded by saying, “Based upon your comments, sir, it’s clear to me that you are aware on some level of how despicable your behavior (was).”

“Just inexcusable,” Slade interjected in agreement.

Allen then commended the diligent work of the investigators and other authorities who “never let this case fall through the cracks” as they saw it through to a successful prosecution and conviction.

“The court also appreciates the fact that you have taken responsibility here today for your actions, and have made your own apology to the victim,” Allen added as she continued talking to Slade. “But it’s clear from her victim impact statement that she lives with this every day, and will continue to do so. And she’ll have to find a way to reconcile that with her ongoing life. And that’s not something that you can change, and it’s not something that this court can change.”

Allen then told Slade, “The maximum penalty associated with this charge will be your sentence,” and ordered that he serve it in Arizona.

Shortly after the hearing concluded, Dotson told Cedar City News, “I hope that the victim in this case can sleep a little easier and that this outcome will bring some closure and healing. David Slade is now where he belongs.” 

“This case has been another example that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” Dotson added. “For 18 years, a woman was left to believe that her rapist had gotten away with his evil act. But thanks to breakthroughs in another state’s investigation, and the advancement of DNA technology, David Slade’s identity was discovered and he was brought to justice.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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