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Man pleads guilty to rape after being released from prison

By Greg Gelpi

A rapist who was mistakenly freed from prison and committed another sexual assault has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to the second rape.

Authorities said 39-year-old Billy Joe Wilson should have been in jail on May 6, 2003, when he raped an Atlanta woman after tying her up, pulling a hood over her head and telling her to be silent or she would die.

But Wilson was free because of a bungled phone call between Clayton County's two law enforcement agencies, authorities said.

Clayton County Sheriff Stanley Tuggle said there was evidence linking Wilson to another crime, but that he was released from prison.

"(The evidence was) passed on to the (Clayton County) police department, but they didn't work on it," Tuggle said, unsure as to why that was the case.

The message that DNA evidence made Wilson a suspect in a 2001 rape never got through.

Wilson was arrested again in September, after committing the second rape in Atlanta.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Castellani sentenced him Thursday to 20 years in prison without parole for the second rape.

Last October, Wilson admitted to committing the first rape on June 2, 2001, when he attacked a Morrow woman in her apartment, and was given a 12-year sentence.

The DNA evidence in that case was forgotten for 11 months because of the bungled phone call, but after Wilson had raped again, his DNA re-emerged in crime scene evidence from the DeKalb case.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)