An Alexandria jury convicted a Defense Intelligence Agency computer analyst yesterday of attempting to rape several of his neighbors during a three-year period in the high-rise complex where he lived.
Ronald Suzukawa, 50, was found guilty of 20 counts of attempted rape, object sexual penetration, sexual battery, burglary, possession of burglary tools and wearing a mask in public. The jury then deliberated for 90 minutes before agreeing on a sentence totaling 67 years and two months in prison and a $20,500 fine. Sentencing was scheduled for March 2. Under Virginia law, a judge may reduce, but not increase, a jury's sentence.
One of the women who testified against Suzukawa sat in the back of the Alexandria courtroom and wept as verdicts were read. She then returned to the stand for the penalty phase of the trial, telling the jury that the crime had ruined her marriage and led her to become a recluse, living in rural Arkansas on a dirt road so she could hear when anyone drove near her house.
The crimes that occurred from 1992 to 1995 at the 17-story Aspen House complex remained unsolved for several years until Suzukawa told DIA officials doing a routine security clearance that Alexandria police had questioned him about a series of sexual assaults and break-ins.
DIA staff members interrogated Suzukawa about the allegations for 23 hours over seven sessions. Finally, on July 16, he told investigators that he had committed the crimes and was turned over to police.
In court, his attorneys acknowledged that the assaults took place but said their client was not the nighttime intruder responsible. They said that the lengthy interrogation had implanted false memories in their client and that police had used the security clearance review to revive a case against Suzukawa that they had been unable to prove earlier.
Defense attorney John Zwerling quoted for the jury what Suzukawa told his interrogators: "You're convincing me I did it, but I don't remember. You've convinced me that I must be the person doing that."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Eric Barnett told the jury it was hard to believe Suzukawa could have made up such a detailed confession, including insights into what happened to each person in the break-ins.
Barnett said all seven crimes were break-ins with intent to rape and involved six women and one man. Suzukawa told investigators that he thought he was breaking into a woman's apartment and was startled to find a man.
"We know it was an Aspen House resident who committed these crimes," Barnett told the jury. He said the assailant often broke into the apartments naked and then made a hasty escape. The victims said their attacker's hands were warm, even though the attacks occurred on cold nights, which Barnett called further evidence of an inside job.