A man who was supposed to go on trial Thursday in a decade-old Missoula County rape case has pleaded guilty instead.

Kenneth Edward Whatley, 46, was accused of breaking into a home on Dec. 5, 2003, and raping the woman who lived there. DNA on a baseball cap left in the home eventually led to his arrest, after the state Crime Lab notified the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office in 2010 that it matched Whatley.

Although Whatley was located in Arizona, records showed he was living in Montana at the time of the assault.

He was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, one of attempted sexual intercourse without consent and one of burglary. Sexual intercourse without consent carries a maximum sentence of between two years to 100 years or life in prison, and a $50,000 fine.

Sentencing for Whatley is scheduled for June 18.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or @CopsAndCourts.

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