NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Suspect in 1999 murder of Sarasota woman found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery

Posted at 8:05 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 20:41:27-05

SARASOTA, Fla. — The man suspected of killing Deborah Dalzell more than 20 years ago was found guilty of murder Thursday afternoon.

The guilty verdict comes a day after DNA experts testified that DNA found on Deborah Dalzell's body belongs to Luke Fleming.

Fleming has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery.

When Deborah Dalzell was raped and murdered in her Sarasota home in 1999, there were no witnesses, no suspects and no answers.

SARASOTA NEWS | The latest headlines from Sarasota County

But 20 years later, with new technology, DNA experts testified on Wednesday that DNA found on Dalzell's body was a complete match to Luke Fleming. Fleming lived less than a mile from Dalzell during the time of the murder.

"I compared that DNA profile from the buckle swab from Mr. Fleming to the DNA profile from the possible semen from Deborah Dalzell’s right thigh and in comparing the two profiles I did get a complete match," said Mary Pacheco, an FDLE DNA expert, earlier this week.

RECOMMENDED: DNA technology being used to prosecute suspect in 1999 cold case killing of Deborah Dalzell

"So essentially if you were to have six sextillion unrelated individuals to choose from I would only expect to observe this profile once," said Alicia Cadenas, of DNA Labs international, earlier this week.

Experts also testified the DNA found on the white T-shirt around Dalzell's neck was likely Fleming's.

Fleming is sentenced to two life sentences, one for first-degree murder and the other for sexual battery.