Cell phone video evidence allowed in Jones trial

Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum ruled Friday to allow a cell phone video in the third-degree criminal sexual conduct case against former Gophers football player Dominic Jones.

The video allegedly shows him having sex with an “unresponsive victim.”

The video has been an integral part of the state’s case against Jones and ultimately led to the charges brought against him June 2007.

In connection with the alleged April 2007 incident, University Police arrested three other former Gophers football players but released them three days later.

Jones was not originally implicated in the case – although he was questioned – until authorities recovered the video, which now could be the critical piece of evidence against him.

Jones has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

His attorney Earl Gray initially moved to suppress the video but Rosenbaum called it “relevant and admissible.”

Friday, the judge also allowed a motion seeking a harsher sentence in the case, and the state will have the opportunity to present evidence to a jury in support of its claims.

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct against “physically helpless” victims carries a 41- to 58-month prison sentence if the defendant has no prior convictions, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

In support of the motion, the state argued that Jones “committed multiple forms of penetration,” according to court files signed by the prosecuting attorneys in the case, Martha Holton Dimick and Marlene Senechal.

“The defendant’s behavior was particularly demeaning and humiliating, and the victim was treated with particular cruelty,” the motion states.

Another issue in the case is the state’s expert testimony regarding the alleged victim’s blood alcohol content. Following the hearing, Gray called the expert a “rubber stamp” for the prosecution.

“Now I have to find a rubber stamp,” Gray said.

Rosenbaum ruled Gray has two weeks to submit his own expert’s report, to address specific concerns about the state’s testimony. Gray didn’t say what his concerns were when questioned after the hearing.

Dr. Stephen Smith is the state’s expert on drug- and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault in the case. He testified in the criminal complaint the alleged victim’s estimated blood alcohol content was 0.30 percent at the time Jones allegedly assaulted her, based on her weight and how much alcohol she consumed.

A 0.30 blood alcohol content would leave a person in a stupor, in which he or she experiences inability to stand or walk and impaired consciousness, Smith testified in the complaint.

Gray had also moved to remove from the record a 30-minute interview from April 24 in which Jones reportedly asked for a lawyer four times before it ended.

Instead, Gray moved to retract portions of the interview from the record in lieu of the original motion, but did not explain why.

“I’m not going to explain my trial theory to the news media,” Gray said after the hearing.

Rosenbaum said she would take the issue under advisement after a 10-day response period.

Following the hearing, Jones refused to comment on the case and upcoming trial, which is set to begin March 31.

Emma Carew contributed to this report.