Specialists Testify As Expert Witnesses in Sexual Assault Case

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By Manuel Espinoza

SAN FRANCISCO – On Feb. 26, 2020, a trial charging the defendant with two counts of rape brought forward two expert witnesses to testify.

The hearing was part of an ongoing trial against Mr. Enrique Saucedo-Zepeda. The Assistant District Attorney, Lailah Morris, called the San Francisco Police Department Criminalist, Ms. Newman, to testify about what they had seen in the case. Newman was the agent that received the kit with body fluid samples in order to test for foreign DNA.

Newman stated that when they received the swabs taken from the alleged victim, the next step was to run tests for the presence of semen. They ran tests on the samples that they had received to detect the presence of what Agent Newman stated as “non-sperm and sperm cell fractions.”

These tests were for the purposes of finding these cell fractions and determining if they were major or minor contributors, essentially more versus less semen. In fact, the tests found a mix of three contributors to the cell fractions, that of the victim, the victim’s boyfriend, and Zepeda. In the non-sperm cell fraction they determined it to be the defendant’s DNA, and in the sperm cell fractions was the DNA of the other two males, including Zepeda.

The prosecution then called their next witness, Lucretia Brown. Brown is a Forensic Nurse Specialist with the Trauma Recovery Center, and she specializes in sexual assault care. Seeing about 5,000 cases in her career, she was confirmed as an expert in sexual examination. Brown stated that at the Trauma Recovery Center, people that come in for help can either present themselves with the police or privately. Brown described the entire process as a very heavy experience for a person, and that they offered support because “they should feel in control of the situation.” When conducting an examination, they could either choose to report the case or not. When the alleged victim presented herself to Brown, she was accompanied by police officers.

Brown went through a series of steps, the first of which included asking the alleged victim about what exactly had happened. When having a conversation like this, Brown stated that she stays aware of the mental and physical state of the person, and whether they document all bodily harm with diagrams of the entire body.

The prosecution then presented these diagrams of the victim, which was a document made by Brown as a result of the exams. Brown described the process which started with asking the victim to remove all clothing. Once removed, they examined the alleged victim’s vaginal region, which was found to have some tenderness. When looking inside, they found abrasions, tearing, and redness. Brown was asked about the significance of these injuries, to which she stated that they were serious, given the “apparent histories” associated with the case.

The next step in the process was to collect swabs from the areas which may have contained foreign DNA using a testing kit. Once Brown obtained the swabs from all of these areas, they sealed them in official packaging and put them in the holding area for the sheriff’s office to retrieve. The prosecution then certified the official package containing the swabs and envelopes that Brown submitted as evidence for the court.

Brown ended her testimony by clarifying that their work is to “only hear what the patient says and collect the evidence based on that.”

With no further questions from the prosecution and the defense remaining questionless throughout the trial, the witness was dismissed. The prosecution stated that they still have another witness to present but that that person was unable to make it until the following day. As a result, Judge Teresa M. Caffese ordered that the trial be adjourned for the day and dismissed the jury.

The trial is set to resume tomorrow at 9:30 am in Department 22 of the San Francisco Hall of Justice.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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