Photo AP/Amy Sancetta
By now it was almost 2300 hrs, but it was Friday night and the city was alive with the usual bar hoppers, conventioneers, streetwalkers and drug dealers.
FEATURED IN INVESTIGATION
The first two articles of this series on investigating rape discussed legal definitions, the importance of care in handling the initial contact with a rape victim, identification and collection of rape evidence, the medical examination and the various uses of DNA evidence. In the third article, I introduced a fictional sexual-assault case based on an actual incident to demonstrate the practical application of previously discussed theory.
This fourth installment continues to follow fictional detectives Anthony Capriati (aka the Cisco Kid) and Shirley Bascomb as they investigate the rape of a bank manager named Marie Delaney.
To review the previous articles in this series, visit www.policeone.com/jetmore.
The Essential Facts
On the third level of the bank s parking garage, an assailant struck Delaney in the back of the head while she looked for her car keys. He dragged her down the parking garage stairwell and onto a partially enclosed landing, where he first forced her to fellate him and then sodomized her. He repeatedly stuck her with a knife handle, fracturing her jaw and damaging her right eye so severely it had to be surgically removed. He took her purse and told her he knew where she lived. Delaney dragged herself up the stairwell; an insurance employee who worked in the building found her near her car and called the police. The dispatcher interpreted the call as a sick/cared for, and the responding officer, Jenkins, went to the wrong parking garage. An ambulance transported Delaney to the hospital before the police arrived on scene.
Jenkins found the right garage, interviewed the insurance employee, left the crime scene and went to the hospital. When he couldn t interview the victim, he returned to the scene and called his sergeant, who notified the detective bureau. Detectives Capriati and Paul Amaral responded, arriving one hour and 19 minutes after the initial call. They sealed off the garage and called in the department s leading forensic specialist, Detective Bascomb. She responded to the scene in the evidence van, where another evidence technician, Detective Newcomb, soon joined her. A third detective of the Evidentiary Services Division, Stan Lucas, was sent to the hospital to begin the process of securing evidence from the victim.
At the crime scene, Capriati and Bascomb found the following:
- A bloodstained shirt the insurance employee had used to provide first aid to the victim;
- Palm prints on the hood of the victim s car;
- Blood droplets and scuff marks on the cement floor leading from the victim s car to the stairwell and down the cement steps to the landing;
- A partial sneaker print in the blood and dirt on the landing;
- A blood-splatter trail continuing at intervals down the stairs to the first floor landing and petering out at a door leading outside of the garage; and
- A half-full paper soda cup with a straw sticking out of the lid at the bottom of the stairwell.
Was the crime scene properly protected? How will the fact that Jenkins left the crime scene affect the case? Will evidence subsequently recovered be allowed in court?
Jenkins made a mistake by not staying on scene, thereby compromising the integrity of the crime-scene evidence. However, what claim does the defense have in prosecution that uses evidence from the crime scene against a defendant? The exclusionary rule doesn t apply here. The only affirmative defense is that from the time of the rape until Jenkins returned from the hospital and secured the scene, someone other than the defendant passed through the crime scene, and the evidence the police collected was derived from someone other than the defendant. However, of the evidentiary items listed above, only the sneaker print and soda cup could arguably have been left by another person between the time of the rape and the securing of the crime scene.
The straw sticking out of the soda cup lid may contain enough saliva to extract a DNA sample and create a profile typing, and the cup might have fingerprints. If this were the only evidence linking a defendant to the crime scene, defense motions to suppress would be vigorous. However, an oft-quoted definition of evidence is whatever a judge will allow the jury to hear. In my experience, the court will take a totality-of-circumstance view of whether crime-scene evidence was so tainted it s inadmissible and allow the jury to hear both sides of the issue from witnesses for the defense and prosecution. So, Jenkins report must detail specifically how much time elapsed from when he left the crime scene and returned. The insurance employee s statement should include his recollection of the appearance of the garage when he found the victim, such as pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the condition of the area around where the victim lay. The detectives should do a time and activity study for at least 10 days, recording the use of the stairs and stairwell landing where the rape occurred.
Remember: The crime scene includes all areas where people connected with a crime perpetrators, victims, witnesses moved. This includes the area the participant(s) moved through in order to commit the crime, while committing the crime and in exiting the scene. So, in our case, the person of the victim is a second crime scene.
At the Hospital
- Investigating Rape Crimes, Part 1 of 5
- Investigating Rape Crimes, Part 2 of 5
- Investigating Rape Crimes, Part 3 of 5
- Investigating Rape Crimes, Part 5 of 5