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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Jones’alleged victim testifies

The alleged victim in the third-degree criminal sexual conduct trial of former Gophers football player Dominic Jones testified Monday morning in Hennepin County Court.

The Minnesota Daily has a policy against naming victims of sexual assault or alleged sexual assault.

Jones is accused of raping and performing a sex act on the victim in the early morning hours of April 4, 2007.

The woman testified that she had no recollection of the incident, and that she had consumed eight shots of vodka late in the evening April 3.

The alleged victim, a petite 19-year-old woman, remained composed throughout the majority of examination and during defense attorney Earl Gray’s questioning.

When Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Marlene Senechal began questioning the events of the evening and early morning and showed the woman still photographs of the alleged sex act, the victim began to cry, wiping the tears from her eyes with tissues from the stand.

In order to convict Jones, the prosecution must prove Jones committed nonconsensual penetration.

Much of Gray’s cross examination focused on establishing that since the woman has no recollection of the timeframe when the incident allegedly occurred, she couldn’t know whether she consented. Gray posed the question twice, to which the woman first answered, “I know I didn’t give consent.”

Gray persisted, reminding her that since she didn’t remember seeing Jones that morning, she wouldn’t have known if she consented to the sex act, to which she replied, “That’s correct.”

The state also called University police officer Phil Lombardi, who testified that he received a report of sexual assault from the alleged victim April 6, 2007.

Lombardi testified that when the alleged victim made the report, she believed someone other than Jones had sexually assaulted her. According to the criminal complaint, the victim had sex with three other former football players on the night of April 3.

Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum had previously ruled that information to be inadmissible, and it will not be told to the jury.

The morning session ran late, with the testimony of Steven Swenson, a forensic scientist for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Swenson said he tested nine condoms and the victim’s shirt and jeans for sperm and semen.

The state is expected to call its DNA analysis expert today.

After the jury left…

Gray filed a motion moving to exclude new analysis of the DNA found in the alleged victim’s jeans.

Gray argued that he had only been notified of the state’s new report on April 5.

“This is trial by ambush,” Gray said. “My client’s being denied his due process rights.”

DNA analysis of the alleged victim’s jeans found semen from up to four men and stated that Jones could not be excluded as a source.

The main contributor of the semen sample was found to be from another individual who was not Jones.

Recently, the state requested the DNA analyst calculate an “exclusion number,” as had previously been done with one of the condoms to show the probability of excluding one or more known DNA samples.

Gray contested the new number should be excluded from evidence because he was notified after the trial started.

Rosenbaum said she would take the matter under advisement.

Gray also filed a motion to re-call former Gophers football player Robert McField during rebuttal to address the issue of McField’s conviction for armed robbery prior to the night of the alleged incidents, in order to establish the potential bias of his testimony.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Martha Holton Dimick said the state had not done anything to help McField with his legal troubles and also noted that Gray ignored repeated admonishing during his questioning of McField.

Holton Dimick also said Gray had not notified the state that he would be probing this issue until it was mentioned during opening statements

“I don’t think it would be fair to the state to reward Mr. Gray,” she said.

Gray referenced a number of legal precedents in support of his motion, and said McField probably cooperated with the police for “a reason other than because he is a marvelous citizen.”

Rosenbaum said she will rule on the motion Tuesday before the first witness is called.

State’s witnesses

The state also called Inez Baker-Westbrock, the sexual assault nurse examiner who testified the alleged victim said she had not been drinking the night of the alleged assault.

Prosecutors then called University police officer Matthew Quast, who said he administered the sequential photo lineup to the alleged victim’s friend and that she identified Jones.

In afternoon session, the state called only one witness, investigator James Nystrom of the University police.

Nystrom’s testimony largely mirrored that of investigator Erin Schaefer, who testified last week about the investigation of the alleged incident.

Emma Carew and Jake Grovum are senior staff reporters.

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