DNA leads cops to robbery-rape suspect

LAWRENCEVILLE -- DNA evidence has helped Gwinnett police arrest one suspect in a brutal August armed robbery and rape.

Kenneth Ervin Starks was arrested late Thursday afternoon and charged with armed robbery, rape and aggravated sodomy, all felonies. His arrest -- the result of DNA evidence left at the scene, police said -- marks the first in connection with a violent Aug. 23 incident that left two men beaten and a 16-year-old girl raped.

According to incident reports, police were called to a home off Lexington Drive in Lawrenceville just after midnight on Aug. 23, in response to a robbery that had just occurred. The victims told authorities that three black males -- one armed with a handgun, one with a shotgun and the other with a baseball bat -- entered the residence through an unlocked kitchen door.

The suspects assaulted two adult males present, sending them to the hospital, and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in the home, police said. They then stole about $500 cash, $750 worth of recording equipment and a coffee table before fleeing, according to the incident report.

For months, detectives had no leads, but a recent hit on DNA collected at the scene led them to Starks, Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Friday. Jail records show Starks had actually been arrested since his alleged participation in the robbery and rape, being booked on Sept. 18 on a battery charge.

The other two suspects in the case are still unidentified, Smith said.