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Hillsborough County man convicted of raping woman at knifepoint 30 years later

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Posted at 8:14 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 10:12:11-05

More than 30 years after a young mother was raped, her attacker has been convicted of the crime.

On November 15, 1988, deputies say the victim was asleep on the couch, and was awoken in the middle of the night by an unknown man who was holding a knife to her throat. He threatened to stab her son if she screamed or fought back.

She was sexually battered twice and the suspect left undetected.

Deputies arrived at the scene and found a knife outside the front door, which they say had been taken from the victim's kitchen and used by the suspect to threaten her. A sexual battery exam was done, but the case went cold.

In 2017, as part of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's backlog purge, the sexual battery examination kit was analyzed and a DNA profile of the suspect was identified.

The investigation was re-activated and Phillip Coward, now 60 years old, was arrested in 2018.

On Dec. 18, 2019, a jury convicted Coward on two counts of sexual battery with a weapon. His sentencing is scheduled for February of 2020.