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Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day care sex assault trial to wrap up today

January 13, 2011, 11:53 a.m. Updated January 14, 2011, 1:09 a.m.

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Closing arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. today in the trial of a 68-year-old Douglas County man accused of molesting a girl at a rural Lawrence day care in 2009.

Defense attorneys spent most of Thursday presenting witnesses and trying to refute testimony earlier in the trial about sexual abuse accusations a 4-year-old girl made and DNA evidence the state presented.

A child psychologist, who viewed the 2009 videotaped interview when the girl told an investigator about her allegations against the man, said he was concerned about the length of the one-hour interview for the child.

“It might lead to a tainted interview in that the child is maybe more looking for ‘what answer I should give so that I can finally get out of this interview,’” said defense witness Stanley Mintz.

But prosecutor Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, argued in cross-examination that the girl brought up the allegations instead of the investigator introducing them.

McGowan has said the defendant lived on the property in 2009 that was home to the Miles of Smiles Child Daycare Center southwest of Lawrence but that he was not responsible for caring for children there.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment records, the day care center closed in July 2010.

The Journal-World generally does not name suspects in sex crime cases unless they are convicted.

The man faces one count of aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

According to testimony, the girl told her mother the man molested her during nap time at the day care. The girl, who had started attending the day care earlier in the summer, was eventually examined at a hospital, and investigators began looking into the case.

The day care center’s owner, Gloria Windholz, testified Thursday afternoon for the defense and said she was in the room with the girl during the entire nap time on the day the allegations surfaced and didn’t see anything improper. The girl had started to outgrow her naps, Windholz said, so she had separated her from other children to avoid waking them up.

“I had to make sure to stay with her because she did not like it that the television was going to have to come off, and she was going to go to sleep,” Windholz said.

McGowan had rested the prosecution’s case earlier Thursday.

The state’s final witness, Alan Mattox, a biologist with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, testified Thursday morning that he could not exclude the defendant’s DNA taken from a sample on the girl’s underwear.

But defense attorney Branden Bell on cross-examination asked Mattox about past errors in the national database he used to build the DNA profile. Mattox had said past errors were corrected in the database and that those errors had nothing to do with the testing he performed in this case.

“If they’re going to use this as evidence, they should be able to tell the jury whether this information is correct or not,” Bell said during an argument over objections made to District Judge Sally Pokorny.

Comments

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm flummoxed on this. The DNA evidence doesn't seem to be positive. The daycare owner states she was with the girl the entire time. Even if the girl brought the allegations up herself, how many children are exposed to such things on TV without parents being aware? (Law and Order: SVU runs mass marathons on USA channel.) Four year olds internalize such things as "reality" without realizing they aren't real. Wow. I'm really stumped and very glad I'm not on this jury. I really don't think Amy McGowan has presented a solid case here unless there is medical or forensic evidence not being reported. (That has happened in the past with this newspaper.) The truly sad thing is that whether he did it or not for the rest of their lives this little girl and her parents will believe he did it and deal with the emotional and mental fallout from it. Having dealt with sexual assault in my own life, I'm one of the first to want to hang 'em high by their nether bits. But to me, there simply isn't enough information in this article to say there isn't a reasonable doubt. If the jury convicts I hope it's on more evidence than this.

caec 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow cait48, I'm really glad you are not on this jury too. The daycare owner lived with the defendant, therefore is biased and has motive to lie. The scientific evidence, through the DNA ,is there. This article states that the bioligist testified that the defendant couldn't be excluded. They testified that way because that's how scientists talk. What that scientists report would actually say is that the DNA profile matches the DNA profile identified from the defendant. Therefore, the defendant cannot be excluded as a contributor. It would then list the estimated frequency of the DNA profile in the unrelated general population. The population database would include categories for : Caucasian, Black, Southeaster Hispanic and Southwestern Hispanic. The estimated frequencies would then read numbers like 1 in 16 Quadrillion, 1 in 68 Quadrillion, 1 in 4 Quadrillion and 1 in 1 Quadrillion. If that's not forensic evidence, I don't know what is. It's also a bit silly to me that you think you can come up with a decision about the case based on a newpaper article. So again, I too am glad you are not on this jury.

ebyrdstarr 3 years, 11 months ago

Actually, when a scientist says that a person can't be excluded as a contributor, it does not necessarily mean that the person is an absolute match and definitively the contributor. First, we need to know whether the DNA profile is a full or partial profile. If it is a full profile, then the declaration that the person cannot be excluded might include the odds you have listed. But if it's a partial profile, the odds go way down. And we are starting to realize that the FBI estimate of those statistics, where most every DNA biologist gets his/her numbers, is probably way over-stated. In Arizona and Maryland, searches of those states' databases have found that random strangers can match at as many as 9 or 10 loci. A full profile is 13 loci. If you get down to as few as 5 loci, the odds can be as great as 1 in 3 that you could find random strangers who match at those 5 loci. So if this statement that the individual cannot be excluded is connected to a partial profile, no, it isn't that clear that it's the defendant's DNA.

Another factor to consider is whether it is a single source DNA sample or a sample that contains more than one individual's DNA. A mixed profile again increases the difficulty in finding a match.

When it comes to excluding someone as a contributor, as in the hundreds of DNA exonerations, DNA testing is pretty conclusive. Even if there are only 5 loci, if your profile doesn't match the sample at even one, you're excluded. But it's a much trickier game to establish that a sample does definitively match someone.

over_par 3 years, 11 months ago

I too am very happy you are not on this jury cait48. Caec explained the DNA pretty well, so no need to rehash. Do yourself a favor... stop watching Law and Order SVU. Four year olds do not have a concept of sexualized behavior unless exposed to it in some manner. And its just shocking that the day care owner would say they were present. Let me guess....Defendant is a family member or they just don't want their daycare shut down. Cait48, if you are ever called for jury duty please, please, please call in sick.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 11 months ago

Actually, no, I have no idea who they are. And I repeatedly stated that I, personally, wouldn't want to make the decision based on what was in the paper. I'm sure there is evidence presented at the trial of which I'm not aware. This paper is famous for that. Not only that, I probably would request to be excused from the jury because I do have a history of being sexually assaulted, as do other members of my family. There is no way I could sit on a jury like this and not be biased. On the other hand, at least I'm not like the freaks that scream for castration the minute it's mentioned in the news (not to say I won't/don't but at least i wait for the conviction).

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 11 months ago

Past history was actually one of the things I was wondering about. If he's a molester he didn't get to the age of 68 without doing it before.

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