Prosecution, defense rest; Jones testifies

New evidence will no longer be admitted as closing arguments begin this morning.

Both sides in the Dominic Jones rape trial rested their cases Tuesday. Closing arguments will begin this morning, after which jurors will decide whether Jones penetrated the alleged victim without her consent in April 2007.

Tuesday’s hearing was a critical juncture for the prosecution and defense, as they both rigorously questioned key witnesses.

For the prosecution, much of the case turns on the testimonies of Alyssa Bance, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension DNA analyst, and Dr. Stephen Smith, the state’s expert on drug- and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, who estimated the woman’s blood alcohol content was between 0.25 percent and 0.39 percent at the time of the alleged assault, based on evidence and other testimony, not actual examination.

Jones’ attorney, Earl Gray, on the other hand, called Jones as his only witness. But his cross-examinations of the state’s witnesses proved to be a potential turning point.

At one point, Gray brought a white board to the front of the courtroom and drew rudimentary calculations questioning Smith’s testimony as the audience and jurors laughed. Based on Gray’s calculations, the 33.8-ounce vodka bottle in question would’ve had to contain 48.85 ounces to provide the amount of alcohol reportedly consumed that night, according to Smith’s maximum calculation.

Prior to cross-examining Smith, the state spent at least 30 minutes establishing his credibility, noting the University professor’s schooling, research and 21 years of professional experience as an emergency room doctor treating at least 12,000 patients admitted for alcohol-related reasons.

In the end, he said during the time the cell phone video showing Jones performing a sex act on the woman was taken, she was either in a stupor or “comatose” state, and wouldn’t have been able to “provide or revoke consent.”

Gray, however, aggressively questioned those estimations. Based on the alleged victim’s testimony that she was sober at 8 a.m. the following morning – which Smith said he didn’t take into account – Gray had Smith recalculate her blood alcohol content at the time the video was taken, at 2:50 a.m. Smith said it would’ve been 0.15 percent.

Furthermore, Gray pointed out that Smith had testified for the state in at least six criminal cases regarding intoxication levels since 2002. Hennepin County is paying Smith $350 per hour for roughly 20 hours of work on this case.

Still, the state maintained the alleged victim appeared unresponsive in the video. Jones, in his testimony, affirmed that observation, but said the act was consensual.

“You aren’t really trying to tell this jury that this was consensual, are you?” Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Marlene Senechal asked Jones while showing still images of the woman’s unresponsive face with his ejaculate on it.

“Yes, ma’am,” Jones responded. Senechal repeatedly emphasized Jones and a friend carried the woman to a bed, undressed her from the waist down and penetrated her.

In calling its DNA expert, Bance, the state referred to two areas cut from the alleged victim’s shirt, which contained DNA. Both areas matched the DNA sample Jones gave.

Bance said she wouldn’t expect that same DNA profile more than once among unrelated people in the world population, and also testified that Jones’ DNA profile could be excluded as a contributor to six of seven condoms also tested.

The outside of the seventh condom contained a mix of DNA from at least three people, of which Jones isn’t the main contributor, but can’t be excluded as a source, Bance said.

During Gray’s cross-examination, he asked Bance if a DNA sample from inside the condom matched “somebody else,” to which she replied yes.

Senechal objected, and both the question and answer were stricken from the official court record.

Gray can’t mention, per the court’s ruling, that the alleged victim had sex with three other men that night, among them former Gophers football player Keith Massey, who is Jones’ half brother.

Jones was excluded from a sperm cell DNA analysis of the condom, Bance testified, but not the analysis of nonsperm cells.

In Gray’s questioning, Bance said the nonsperm cell DNA could’ve been transferred to the condom by other items in the trash can where the condoms were found.

After completing the sex act, Jones testified, he went into a bathroom in the apartment, where the condoms were found, and cleaned himself off, throwing away the tissue in a trash can.

The state also re-called former Gophers football player Robert McField. Gray had filed a motion to re-call McField, to establish the potential bias of his testimony that he gave last week, which implicated Jones.

In opening statements, Gray told the jury McField had cooperated with the police to benefit himself, while awaiting sentencing for an armed robbery conviction in St. Louis.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Martha Holton Dimick asked McField if he had any incentive to lie to or cooperate with the police, to which he replied, “No, ma’am.”

McField changed his story after speaking with Jones. In the second interview with police on April 19, 2007, he told investigators he’d seen the alleged victim thrusting back against Jones, but testified last week that was not true.

Jake Grovum is a senior staff reporter; Justin Horwath is on special assignment for the Daily.