A man recently convicted of a 1986 killing was sentenced Monday to at least 25 years in prison in a case prosecutors say was solved by DNA.
Steven Carter was charged just last year with strangling Antoinette Bennett and stabbing her in the face a quarter-century earlier.
Bennett, 26, was found in an Upper Manhattan playground in November 1986, with her pants pulled down.
With a criminal history that includes about two dozen convictions and the rape and beating of a teacher at a youth prison in the 1970s, Carter was locked up again and about a month away from potential release in a weapons case when he was indicted last year in Bennett's death, authorities said.
The Manhattan district attorney's office said it matched Carter's DNA, taken after one of his prior convictions, to samples found on Bennett's fingernails and leggings; the samples couldn't be tested at the time of her death. Carter was convicted last month of murder.
"He should never be free to prey on another living human being,'' Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges told a court Monday.
Carter said he and Bennett had a consensual sexual encounter, and he didn't attack her.
"I did not commit this crime,'' Carter, now 50 and married, said Monday. His lawyer, Lori Cohen, said he planned an appeal that would emphasize statements by and about another man who may have argued with Bennett on the night of her death.
Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner gave Carter the maximum possible sentence for what she called "a very brutal attack.''
"The saddest thing, for me, is that the family (of Bennett) is not here today'' to see Carter sentenced, the judge said.
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