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MAN ACTING AS OWN ATTORNEY <br> DENIES RAPE, ROBBERY COUNTS

Nache Afrika, a much-arrested Rochester man, told a jury Tuesday that he is innocent of a violent sex crime and robbery at a Cheektowaga clothing store three years ago and is "not insensitive" to the agonies of the victim.

Afrika, 40, derided what he called "inconclusive" DNA testing, which allegedly linked him to the rape and sodomy, based on what he called a "small sample" of body fluid evidence.

Serving as his own attorney with help from a court-approved defense lawyer, Afrika -- now serving a 25-year prison term for a 1998 Rochester shooting and facing a Rochester trial soon in the robbery and sodomy of a male store clerk on July 24, 1998 -- declined to say whether he would testify.

Described by authorities as a violent sexual predator suspected in up to 20 unsolved robberies in Western New York, Afrika was indicted 15 months ago by an Erie County grand jury in the attack at a Union Road department store on Oct. 27, 1998.

Afrika told Erie County Judge Michael Pietruszka and the 12-member jury that he is representing himself because he would face a 100-year prison term if convicted.

Afrika told the jury that he cannot offer an alibi defense because he did not become a suspect in the Cheektowaga crime until 456 days after the incident, when a Rochester informant identified him to police as the assailant.

Prosecutors Thomas M. Finnerty and Susan Etu Eagan told the jury that the sodomizing and rape allegedly committed by Afrika still "haunts" the victim, now 25.

Finnerty said DNA testing last year showed that there is only one chance in 46 quadrillion that the evidence came from someone else.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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