Jerald Jefferson, 32, was convicted of aggravated rape in December by a Criminal Court jury that deliberated just 37 minutes.
He was sentenced by Judge Lee Coffee.
The victim, now age 28, was a 16-year-old student at Trezevant High School when three men abducted her from the campus, put a pillowcase over her head and drove her to another location where she was raped.
A rape kit was prepared, but was not tested until two years later when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received a grant to test a backlog of kits in cases where there were no identified suspects.
The TBI loaded the DNA profile into the CODIS computer database which got a hit in 2010, matching the profile to Jefferson whose DNA had been taken following his arrest in an aggravated assault case.
Under Tennessee law, any person convicted of a felony after July 1, 1998 must provide a biological specimen for DNA analysis. That sample is forwarded to the TBI and entered into the national DNA database.
Assistant district attorney Terre Fratesi, who prosecuted the case, said Memphis Police Lt. Cody Wilkerson worked the cold case and located the victim.
Fratesi is a member of the district attorney’s Special Victims Unit which is headed by chief prosecutor Jennifer Nichols.
SVU prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of child victims, rape and aggravated rape of adult victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.
SVU reviews child cases cooperatively with the Shelby County multi-agency Child Protection Investigative Team.