The paternity test results of the child allegedly fathered by a man accused of raping and causing to become pregnant a 13-year old girl were essentially thrown out by the Supreme Court yesterday before closing arguments were heard by jurors in the trial of Hank Peredo Kennedy Taitano, the defendant charged with rape.
Despite this, the prosecution asked jurors to recall the “loud” evidence and testimony of the alleged rape victim who took the witness stand and described the sexual assault through tears, while hiding behind her hair covering one side of her face just to avoid making eye contact with the man accused of raping her.
When Saipan Tribune left the court near press time yesterday afternoon, closing arguments had ended and the jury had descended for deliberation.
After an hours’ long back-and-forth yesterday between prosecution and the defense, Gary Stuhlmiller, a DNA analyst from LabCorp in North Carolina, was not able to give testimony on the “relationship report,” or paternity test, which was expected to shed light on whether Taitano had fathered the victim’s child.
The results, which were to be “Exhibit 7.1” in Taitano’s trial, were essentially thrown out after Assistant Public Defender Matthew Meyer argued that the database compared to these samples were not reliable.
Meyer pointed out that Stuhmiller himself admitted that he could not say if the DNA database used included data from people from the Northern Marianas Islands. He asked to the court to determine, like in a previous ruling in “CNMI vs Crisostomo” that the data used should be found “not relevant” because the data cannot be shown to have come from people from the NMI, and therefore they could not be compared to these sample.
Meyer also said, as the doctor himself admitted, that the results would not be able to tell the difference between the genetic markings of a parent of a child and a grandparent of a child. This would only be possible, the doctor conceded, if there were collected extensive samples from a CNMI database.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho agreed, essentially saying that to not confuse or dissuade jurors that this evidence would not be submitted to them.
During her closing arguments, Holley recalled the victim’s testimony, describing how the 13-year-old’s first sexual experience was also the first time she was sexually assaulted by Taitano.
Holley asked jurors to recall how the victim sat in the witness stand and described how after swimming one day, the defendant sexually assaulted the girl.
Holley recalled how the victim said she felt disgusted and tried to get the defendant off her but couldn’t.
“She then told you how she went into the bathroom and cried,” Holley said.
Holley urged jurors to remember how they heard her tone of voice and through tears she hid behind her hair on a side of her face so to not see the defendant across the courtroom during both days she testified in court.
Holley said her testimony pointed to the date of rape around June 2014, and that the day the baby was born was on March 22.
“I’ll leave the math up to you,” Holley told jurors.
Holley said that jurors heard from the victim’s mother, who recalled how the victim’s behavior changed after June, becoming easily upset and angry, and how she stopped having her period.
Holley said that it was suggested that the victim’s claim were about anger, but said, the victim did not look angry on the witness stand.
Anger does not cause one to hide behind hair to avoid making eye contact, she said.
The victim was asked if she was blaming the defendant because she was mad at home, Holley said, but then quoted the victim’s response, saying she was “blaming the defendant because he did this to me.”
Holley asked jurors to consider to only the victim’s testimony but also the mother, friend, and detective who described her as ashamed and crying, and corroborated what she told jurors.
During his closing arguments, Meyer said, “Anybody can make a claim that a crime was committed against them.
“Anybody can do that,” he told jurors. “You are going to read instructions that say it is the government’s job to prove what is all to easy to say,” he said.
He said a young lady came forward and said she was sexually abused and based on her claim a man was charged but that could happen to anybody.
He said the burden is always on the government to prove this.
Meyers said that they saw Dr. Stuhlmiller that day and knows that test results were sent to his lab. But “what evidence did you hear?” he said. “Nothing.”