Dan Dow’s prosecution team withheld DNA evidence in sexual assault case

January 25, 2019

SLO District Attorney Dan Dow

A San Luis Obispo judge ruled Thursday that SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow’s prosecution team violated the law when it withheld a state crime lab report that found DNA from a person other than the defendant on the breast of the alleged victim in a Cambria sexual assault case. [Tribune]

Herbert George Connor, 72, is currently standing trial over an incident in which he allegedly forced himself on a 67-year-old woman, groped her and caused her to fall into a door jamb while she tried to escape. Connor and the woman previously had a sexual relationship, though there are conflicting accounts to the nature of their encounters.

Dow, in a rare move for a sitting district attorney, is personally prosecuting the case, having taken it on after his underlings planned to drop the charges because of a perceived lack of conclusive evidence. One of the charges in the case stems from Connor’s alleged contact with the woman’s breast.

Following the alleged sexual assault, the woman submitted several oral and and body swabs as part of an initial sexual assault exam. The swabs went to the California Department of Justice crime lab in Goleta, which completed a DNA test report in June 2017, according to a statement filed by Dow.

Dow stated he was not aware of the DNA test until Tuesday, when after the trial recessed for the day, Sheriff’s Detective Devashish Menghrajani called him. Menghrajani informed Dow that, while preparing for his testimony, he discovered that he had never sought the results of the state DOJ crime lab test.

On Thursday, the report showing a third party’s DNA on the alleged victim’s breast was moved into evidence in the case. Judge Jacquelyn Duffy ruled the prosecution team illegally withheld the evidence from the defense, though she did not find that the prosecution withheld the evidence intentionally.

Duffy granted motions by Connor’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, requesting an additional jury instruction about the DNA evidence and that the defense, not the prosecution, be allowed to call the crime lab’s forensic technician to testify. Duffy also granted a motion allowing Funke-Bilu to deliver an approximately five-minute addendum to his opening argument about the technician’s expected testimony.

It appeared Duffy was open to hearing an argument for a mistrial. However, Connor requested that the trial continue because he does not have the money for legal defense in a second trial.

In arguments over the DNA test report, Dow claimed it was inconclusive and of little value. Funke-Bilu argued the person whose DNA was found on the alleged victim’s breasts may have had physical contact with the woman at about the same time the alleged assault occurred.

Connor is charged with felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape and sexual battery and a misdemeanor count of inflicting corporal injury. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Last week, the trial was set back two days after Duffy ruled Dow trivialized the standard of reasonable doubt in his questioning of prospective jurors. The mishap resulted in the dismissal of the entire jury panel.

Testimony in the case will resume Friday.


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DPINC

Ilan is having a good time in this trial .He has Dow in the corner with a Duntz hat on …The jurors must just be shaking their heads when on breaks .What a waste of county funds Dow needs to go to costume store and purchase a large wig ,some big shoes , and a large nose that honks when ya squeeze it


horse_soldier

Now I get it. The reason Dow doesn’t go after the bad guys is because he’s one of them!


rukidding

This is just a poor example of Justice in SLO. It’s only about politics as anyone who has any knowledge of the law and the Judicial system can easily see the flaws in this case and there is only one conclusion to come to and that is Reasonable Doubt. Dow has no business being in a courtroom, that is what the deputy DA’s are for. Without a doubt Mr. Connor has become the victim of the PR program for the DA. This case should be dismissed and hopefully the DA would critique his actions and his department. Justice should be fair to all and not just to the good old boy network that still exists in SLO.


PaulJones

Dan Dow appears to think this is a battle between him and the attorney. No Dan, this is about justice. We have laws that require the disclosure of evidence and the rule of reasonable doubt to promote justice. This is not a contest for Dow to win, this is an opportunity to give all the facts to the jury and let justice prevail. Sadly, not a common occurrence in the SLO County courthouse.


DocT

Folks,


The important thing here is Dow’s personal success, or to put it another way, Dow’s public image.


George Washington led his troops in battle. Just like the President, Dan Dow is signalling to us that he is also a battle hardened, hard-working DA who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and prosecute criminals. We’re supposed to think, “Sure Dow’s a great administrator, but his heart is in the courtroom, putting criminals in jail and protecting the helpless people in SLO County, especially women.”


Don’t pay attention to his competence, or lack of judgement. Don’t even think about whether evidence was withheld intentionally……NO!!


Just like with Tracey Nix who never got a degree despite testifying multiple times under oath that she had one…..Dow said it was no big deal. The DNA evidence is no big deal either….according to DA Dow. Jury instructions are also no big deal. This is about our DA….not the victim or the accused…..


None of that is important! No, what is important is the impression we’re supposed to walk away with: trust and admiration for the DA.


Competence, truth, justice, fairness, equal protection under the law…..none of that claptrap is worth anything. Dow’s image…..and more importantly the way he feels about himself….is the important stuff.


Down with evidence! Down with truth! Down with honest arguments in court! We want a DA we feel proud of…..no matter what.


PaulJones

I voted for Dow because I thought he believed in our laws, not just those who suit him and his buddies. We need a DA who prosecutes crimes regardless of who is involved, including his staff for perjury. Without truth and justice in our court system and our DA’s office, we will have a lawlessness.


analyticone

It’s a slippery slope, Dan. A slippery, slippery slope, and you’ve sloped off to the very bowels of it.


kayaknut

I’m sure we will hear the standard public sector failure excuse, “It was just a clerical error”. Chalk up another one for DA Dan Dow.


Ugluk

Wish we could make Ilan Funke-Bilu DA, since he appears to be doing Dow’s job anyway, although he probably couldn’t afford the pay cut….


Rich in MB

The office of Dan Dow has been an embarrassment to the community. It’s time for Dan to go.