It could turn out to be a case of he said, she said. A DNA expert’s testimony Monday in the case against Eric Frimpong-the former UCSB soccer standout on trial for allegedly raping a female UCSB student-left plenty of unanswered questions about what happened early on the morning of February 17. The 19-year-old alleged victim has already testified in the case, though her memory was fuzzy and she had been drinking heavily enough on the night in question to register .20 on a breath alcohol examination several hours after the alleged incident took place. Defense attorney Bob Sanger, who began calling witnesses Wednesday after prosecutor Mary Barron rested, still hasn’t revealed whether Frimpong will testify, but it doesn’t seem likely. Closing arguments are expected to take place Friday morning, meaning Sanger could make his case in less than two days. Barron, however, brought in more than 20 witnesses since the trial began November 28.
The nine women and three men sitting in the jury box will soon be deciding if unclear DNA evidence teamed with unclear testimony from the alleged victim is enough to convict Frimpong. There was no foreign DNA-Frimpong’s or otherwise-found on or in the young woman’s body, testified Department of Justice criminalist Lillian Tugado on December 10. Peculiarly, however, the alleged victim’s DNA was found on a swab taken from Frimpong’s penis. Also found on his scrotum was his DNA, and the DNA of two others-a woman and a third person whom the scientist couldn’t eliminate as possibly being the alleged victim. Additionally, DNA from sperm found in the underpants the young woman was wearing at the time of the alleged incident was linked to Benjamin Randall, the woman’s intimate partner and a person Sanger has suggested is the real culprit. Sanger claims that the alleged victim’s DNA got on Frimpong’s penis after she reached into his pants. The woman, however, claims that he attacked her on the beach after they left a party together.
Barron played for the court Tuesday a recording of part of Detective Daniel Kies’s initial interview with Frimpong, who was first contacted by authorities roughly 12 hours after the rape allegedly occurred. On the tape, Frimpong calmly explained throughout the 37-minute tape where he had been the previous night. He told detectives he ran into acquaintances, who invited him to a party. He recalled playing beer pong with one of them, a woman, whom Frimpong described as being 5-foot-6 with blondish hair. (Notably, the alleged victim has black hair.) After the game, he explained, they went their separate ways. “Is there anything else you’d like to say about Friday night?” one of the detectives can be heard asking, to which Frimpong replied no.
At multiple points, Frimpong can be heard asking what they were inquiring about, at one point asking the detective to advise him of his rights. After Kies asked if they could send a deputy to collect clothes Frimpong wore the previous night, he responded, “Yeah, but I still don’t know what’s going on.” Kies explained what the woman had told him, including that they had gone down to the beach and had sex. “Wow,” Frimpong responded. “Do you remember that?” Kies asked. “No, no,” Frimpong responded, almost chuckling in disbelief at the idea.
Tuesday saw a motion for mistrial by Sanger, after it was revealed that Kies didn’t file a report about a visit he made to Dr. Raymond Johansen, a Santa Barbara dentist. Kies denied on the stand that Johansen rendered any opinion that would negatively impact the prosecution’s case, while a statement from Johansen, scheduled to take the stand Wednesday, seemed to indicate otherwise. While a mistrial is an unlikely result, the judge’s decision in the matter could lead to the impeachment of the testimony of the dentist Barron was expected to call by Wednesday.
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Pictured at top: Department of Justice criminalist Lillian Tugado