Tuesday, June 25, 2024

AG wins appeal against convicted Wilmington rapist

Wayne Edward Soller, 61, was given a $2 million secured bond on Friday morning for allegedly raping a woman in Wilmington more than 22 years ago. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy District Attorney Ben David's Office)
Wayne Edward Soller, 61.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced yesterday his office won a criminal appeal in a sex crimes case against a Wilmington man.

Wayne Soller was convicted in 2021 for second-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, and first-degree burglary and was sentenced to 24 to 29 years in prison. The assault occurred 25 years earlier in 1996, but the victim’s sexual assault kit was never submitted for testing. According to a press release from Steain’s office, kits at the time were only submitted for analysis if law enforcement had already identified a suspect.

READ MORE: Suspect in 1996 Wilmington rape receives $2 million bond, could face life in prison

Wilmington Police Department submitted the kit in 2018 upon the victim’s request, and after Attorney General Josh Stein asked local law enforcement agencies to inventory their older untested sexual assault kits and test the backlog of kits.

The DNA from the kit matched Soller’s, whose DNA was already in the national DNA database from an unrelated 2014 arrest. The Wilmington Police Department arrested Soller and the New Hanover County District Attorney’s office prosecuted the case.

“This case demonstrates why we can never let up in our effort to test older kits,” Stein said in a press releae. “When we test kits, we solve crimes, get dangerous offenders off the street, and make our communities safer. I’m grateful to the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County District Attorney’s office for successfully investigating and prosecuting this case and to my Solicitor General’s team for defending this conviction.”

As a result of the Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision, Soller’s current convictions and sentence will stand.

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