DNA convicts man in 1983 rape, murder

A man on trial for raping and murdering a teenage girl more than three decades ago was found guilty of first-degree murder in a Santa Clara County courtroom Monday afternoon, according to prosecutors. ‘

Christopher Holland, 59, was on trial for the murder of 17-year-old Cynthia Munoz, who was found raped, strangled and stabbed in her disabled boyfriend’s Campbell home Aug. 7, 1983. Holland was charged in 2007 after investigators linked him to a sperm sample taken from Munoz’s body, according to prosecutors.

Holland was also charged with the rape and murder of 21-year-old San Jose resident Tara Marowski, whose body was found in the back of her Plymouth Duster April 2, 1983. The court decided to try those cases separately, however.

Prosecutor Christopher Walsh said he was very pleased with today’s verdict:

“Her family has waited 31 years to find justice for her cruel and senseless death. … The jury’s decision today holds Christopher Holland accountable for her murder and hopefully gives Munoz’s loved ones a measure of peace.”

Walsh called it interesting that DNA evidence made it possible to prosecute this case after 31 years:

“Law enforcement never gave up on this case and trying to hold the killer responsible, and I think it’s a special thing that after 31 years her family members have this closure.”

The investigation reached a turning point when Holland’s brother voluntarily submitted a DNA sample, which was used to link Holland to Munoz’s murder.

Police believed Holland was the defendant, but they couldn’t get his DNA. Walsh said:

“They got it from his brother, and that was enough to show it was a familial DNA hit.”

After Holland’s arrest, investigators were able to obtain his DNA and positively link Holland to the sperm sample taken from Munoz’s body, according to Walsh. The death penalty will not be a factor in Holland’s sentencing, but Walsh is eligible for life without the possibility of parole, according to Walsh. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.