Thursday, December 13, 2007

Defense rests case in Frimpong rape trial


After calling one witness in a rape trial involving a former UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer player, the defense rested its case yesterday in Superior Court.
The prosecution, which wrapped up its case on Wednesday after calling dozens of witnesses over the past two weeks, and the defense are expected to deliver their closing arguments today and leave the fate of 22-year-old Eric Frimpong in the hands of a jury made up of nine women and three men.

Frimpong has pleaded innocent to one felony count of forcible rape alleged by one woman and a misdemeanor count of sexual battery alleged by a second woman.
Frimpong’s defense attorney Robert Sanger called his lone witness on Wednesday afternoon.
That witness was Dean Warden, a senior criminologist for the California Department of Justice laboratory in Goleta, who said he tested the blood alcohol level of the alleged rape victim and found it to be .20.
The bulk of Dean’s testimony dealt with the possible impairments a person with a blood alcohol level of that number would have. Because the blood was extracted at 5:37 a.m. and the alleged incident likely occurred several hours before hand, Sanger walked through a graph of what Dean estimated the girl’s blood alcohol level would have been at midnight and hours leading up to 5:30 a.m.
Based on two different calculations, which used the .20 number as a stopping point, Dean said the girl could have had a blood alcohol level as high as .31 at midnight or .28, depending on her rate of alcohol “burn off.”
The legal threshold used in California to determine if someone is too intoxicated to drive is .08.
When Deputy District Attorney Mary Barron questioned Dean about the different ways in which people react to alcohol, Dean admitted that there is a difference, but no studies have been conducted to see what the effects are of a blood alcohol level of .20 or higher.
“There are no real studies that high because it’s kind of unethical to give people that much alcohol,” Warden said on Wednesday.
Judge Brian Hill read the jury about a half-hour worth of instructions yesterday, telling them they must decide what the facts of the case indicate and that the prosecution’s burden is to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Do not let bias, or sympathy or public opinion influence your decision,” Hill said.
While the majority of the jury instructions are generically read at the conclusion of any jury trial, there were a few instructions tailored by Hill, Sanger and Barron specifically for this case.
One had to deal with a blunder by the prosecution on consulting a local dentist for an opinion about a set of bite marks left on one of the alleged victims and not notifying the defense, which Hill said on Wednesday should have occurred long before trial.
Hill said the jury may consider the lack of the prosecution’s disclosure in its final decision, if it seems to impact the facts of the case in any way.
When the jury left the room yesterday, Sanger argued that, while Hill added these thoughts into the instructions, he should have done so to an even greater extent.
“We were deprived of that and that’s why there should be sanctions,” Sanger told Hill, adding that it’s impossible to know at this point how the knowledge that an additional doctor’s opinion had been sought might have impacted Frimpong’s defense.

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