Boca Raton rape cold case ends with man sentenced to life in prison

McKenzie sentenced for 1989 armed sexual battery

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A 60-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for the 1989 armed sexual battery of a woman.

John Leonard McKenzie, who was linked to the crime after nearly two decades by DNA evidence, appeared in a Boca Raton woman's kitchen and raped her at knifepoint.

The petite victim stood in the courtroom Tuesday, first thanking God for allowing her to witness justice after 22 years, then thanking God for the wisdom he gave law enforcement officials who worked her case.

She turned and faced McKenzie as she recounted seeing him in her home with a raised knife. He sliced off her top, sliced her hand and assaulted her.

Finally she repeated her last words to McKenzie: "I will do whatever it takes to prevent you from doing this to any other man, woman or child."

Also testifying was an Illinois woman who McKenzie was convicted of raping in 1977 when she was 13 years old. She recounted Tuesday that she was walking to school on a cold day when McKenzie approached her with a knife, and threatening to kill her. As she got in the car with him, "I thought the devil himself was sitting with me in that car," she said.

Prosecutors Kevin Moot and Reid Scott located the Illinois victim and brought her to West Palm Beach for McKenzie's sentencing. "I thought it appropriate to give her a voice," Moot said outside court.

Another petite woman testified - McKenzie's wife of 11 years, Karen. She met him in 1992 and knows him only as a loving, gentle, hardworking man. "He is a good man todaydeserving of my love," she said.

McKenzie, formerly of Boca Raton, did not testify. His defense attorney, Steve Gomberg, said he was unable to face his accusers and has been on suicide watch at the jail for the past week. "He hates what he was, hates what he has done," Gomberg said.

McKenzie had previous convictions for the Illinois teen's rape, child pornography, carrying a concealed firearm and making a false statement to a firearms dealer. He gave a DNA sample in the false statement case, which reignited the Boca Raton rape cold case.

According to his sentencing memorandum, when the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office analyzed the Boca woman's rape kit in 2007, they found a profile matching McKenzie in the national database of offenders. The chance of another person having the exact same profile is 1 in 10.8 quintillion .

Gomberg asked Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath to consider McKenzie's life free of violent offenses since 1989 and proposed a 27-year sentence, the lowest allowed under state sentencing guidelines. Prosecutor Moot told the judge that under the law in effect in 1989, a person with a life sentence was not eligible for parole until after 25 years.

Without hesitation, Colbath sentenced McKenzie to life with the possibility of parole. He made special note of the attack on the 13-year-old, calling McKenzie every woman's nightmare, every parent's nightmare.

"You are the boogeyman," Colbath said.

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