The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Tunis on August 2, 2012.
Sexual Assault—DNA Evidence—Jury—Sexually Violent Predator.
Defendant appealed from the judgment of conviction and sentence in this sexual assault case. The judgment and sentence were affirmed.
The victim was sexually assaulted in her home. Defendant ultimately was convicted of sexual assault and second-degree burglary, both class 3 felonies, and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for an indeterminate term of twelve years to life. His sentence included a determination that he qualified as a sexually violent predator.
Defendant contended that the Y Chromosome-Short Tandem Repeat (Y-STR) DNA evidence, which was admitted through expert testimony, was unreliable and, therefore, the trial court erred by admitting it. The analyst who conducted the testing and testified about it was properly qualified and admitted as an expert in forensic DNA analysis. The analyst testified that she used a generally accepted scientific metric for conducting the Y-STR analysis. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the exclusion statistics and the sample size of DNA that the expert used were reliable. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting this evidence.
Defendant also contended that the trial court erred by releasing a juror who repeatedly fell asleep and replacing him with an alternate juror. Defendant failed to show that the remaining jurors were unfair or biased, or that he was prejudiced by the dismissal and replacement of the juror. Therefore, the court’s decision to replace the sleeping juror was not an abuse of discretion.
Finally, defendant contended that the trial court erred by determining he was a sexually violent predator within the meaning of CRS § 18-3-414.5(1)(a)(III). The court concluded that defendant was a sexually violent predator because he promoted a relationship with the victim primarily for the purpose of sexual victimization. Further, defendant threatened the victim in an effort to keep her quiet during the assault, pulled her hair, and repeatedly forced her head into a position from which she could not see him during the assault. Thus, the evidence at trial supports the court’s conclusion. The judgment and sentence were affirmed.
Summary and full case available here.