Highland man convicted of OC rapes that attorney blamed on defendant’s twin

Posted by admin on

A Highland man was convicted Thursday, Feb. 23, of two rapes that occurred more than two decades ago in south Orange County despite claims by his defense attorney that the crimes were actually carried out by his twin brother.

An Orange County Superior Court jury deliberated for around four hours before finding Kevin Konther guilty of raping a 9-year-old girl in Lake Forest in 1995 and a 32-year-old woman in Mission Viejo in 1998 as well as committing lewd acts on a girlfriend’s daughter when she was 8 or 9 years old at the couple’s homes in Huntington Beach and Highland.

Because they are twins, DNA from the rapes originally was tied to both Konthers. But a secretly recorded conversation between the brothers while they were in police custody that a prosecutor argued essentially served as a confession by Kevin Konther, now 57 years old, led investigators to identify him as the rapist.

“This case is about a guilty man who knew exactly what he did in evading detection for horrendous crimes 25-plus years ago,” Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver said during her closing arguments on Wednesday in a Santa Ana courtroom. “He knew exactly what he was guilty of, and he knew exactly why he was being arrested.”

During the recorded conversation, Kevin Konther repeatedly apologized to his angry and confused brother, at one point telling him, “I’m a criminal in my past. I have serious issues. Now I’ve got to pay for it and I don’t want to.”

“It’s my, my bad past caught up to me … my stupidity … my wrongdoing,” Konther told his brother at another point. “My chemical imbalance in my brain. I’ve been fighting that demon for a long time. I just hate women, that’s my problem.”

Konther referenced wanting to flee to Mexico or to Canada during the conversation, the prosecutor said.

Deputy Public Defender Jessica Ann Sweeny told jurors that Kevin Konther was covering for his brother, having decided to be the one to take the blame. The defense attorney raised the possibility that Konther during the recorded conversation could have been repeating details of the sexual assaults he had already heard from police investigators and may have known he was being recorded.

“Kevin did not do this,” Sweeny told jurors.

Neither Kevin Konther nor his brother testified during the trial.

The first victim, who is now 36, testified that a man came up behind her while she was walking home from a store in 1995, put a hand over her mouth, told her he had a knife and pulled her down an embankment into Serrano Creek Park in Lake Forest. She said she pleaded with the attacker not to kill her as he forced her to take off her clothes and raped her. She said at one point she told the rapist that she was only nine, and he laughed.

Three years later, the prosecutor said, Konther grabbed a 32-year-old woman running along a secluded bike trail in Mission Viejo, dragged her down an embankment and raped her.

Investigators collected DNA during forensic exams of both the girl and the woman and determined the same man carried out both rapes. Authorities were unable to identify a suspect until 2018, when the cases were re-opened and an Orange County sheriff’s investigator worked with the FBI’s Genealogy Team to explore cutting-edge familial DNA searches.

It wasn’t disclosed how DNA from one of the brothers, or a family member, ended up in a database. Investigators collected DNA from the Konther brothers from their trash, according to courtroom testimony.

Police also learned of accusations made against Konther by a girlfriend’s daughter. The girl accused Konther of going into her room naked in 2003 while she was pretending to sleep and standing uncomfortably close to her and sometimes pulling down her pants and underwear.

Konther is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on March 21. He faces up to 140 years to life in prison.