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DNA evidence properly excluded in rape trial

December 4, 2015

A trial court was correct in not allowing evidence in a rape trial that DNA of an unknown male was collected from the victim two days after the incident, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

Jordan Pribie was accused of raping C.G., the ex-girlfriend of his roommate, Josh Curl. Curl invited C.G. to his home, where the two drank alcohol with other people. They became extremely intoxicated and C.G. threw up on herself. Pribie told C.G. he would give her a clean shirt if she would have sex with him. She declined, but later he woke her up and had sex with her over her protests. He did not ejaculate. She had consensual sex with Curl several hours later.

C.G. did not report the rape or have an exam done until two days later. The test did not disclose any DNA consistent with Pribie’s but did reveal sperm from an unknown male.

At his trial, Pribie wanted to introduce the rape kit evidence, but the state objected. The trial court ruled that this evidence was barred under Ind. Evidence Rule 412 as “evidence offered to prove that a victim or witness engaged in other sexual behavior.” The jury did hear that a rape kit was performed and it did not reveal Pribie’s DNA. He was convicted of Class B felony rape and sentenced to 10 years in the Department of Correction with two years suspended to probation.

Pribie raised five arguments as to why the evidence should have been admitted, including that Rule 412 does not apply or that the evidence falls under certain exceptions, but the Court of Appeals rejected all of his claims. They also did not find that the state opened the door to the evidence in its direct examination of C.G. or a biologist.

Pribie also claimed juror misconduct required overturning his conviction. One alleged instance of misconduct involved an ex parte conversation between a juror and the bailiff. The juror told the bailiff she knew people on both sides of the case; the bailiff asked her if the recognized people were close friends, to which she said no. She also said it would not prejudice her decision.

While the bailiff should have told the judge about this conversation and allowed the judge to question the juror, the bailiff’s actions were harmless error because the bailiff asked the same questions as the judge would have.  Following the correct procedure would not have yielded a different result for Pribie, Judge John Baker wrote.

The case is Jordan Pribie v. State of Indiana, 12A02-1412-CR-836.
 

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