SLO judge rules Dow’s prosecution team illegally withheld DNA evidence in sexual assault case

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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7 Comments about “SLO judge rules Dow’s prosecution team illegally withheld DNA evidence in sexual assault case”

  1. Maven says:

    Anything to rip Dow. Dow has not been incompetent. He has been brilliant. If you had spent any time observing this trial you would know. There was no reason to NEED DNA in this case. The defendant’s identity was known. The defendant admitted contact on the day in question. The alleged third DNA on the breasts of the victim might very well have been put there by the defendant during the assault. SMason2 is the certifiable nutjob here, just ask his brother. Dow is a man of ethics and honesty.

  2. CSM Bartol says:

    Watching this case go thru the hoops for sometime now and knowing some of the players. This is a NON Case, the detective did a horrible job, it was obvious he was clueless on what or who to do a legitimate sexual assault case.

    But was is even more appalling is the elected DA Dow, who had to call for “Side Bars” with the judge and opposing counsel several times. Twice when Dow was ruled against by the Judge in front of the Jury Dow was “Red” faced and needed to consult with his deputies as what to do ?

    This is a case like many others falsely filed by Dow that are a waste of our monies and Judicial time. The Judges have ruled many times against cases Dow has brought. He as many on the “New” Jury as he screwed up the last one, most felt this too is a non case. He will not protect the people against dirty sexually deviant Cops (McGuire) Paso PD but will go after old men on false charges.

    I will be circulating a petition to recall Mr. Dow, it is time for a honest, ethical, and decent man as Dow is “Unfit” to continue as the DA.

    1. Maven says:

      False charges? The guy admitted to it under questioning by his own attorney. IFB was more red-faced than Dow ever was. Dow is doing an outstanding job with the situation he was given. You really should just post under one name. We all know you are the same person anyway.

  3. S Mason2 says:

    The DA Dan Dow is now over his head in a really bull shit case, as his former deputies would not prosecute the case and now the many Juridical errors and incompetence of his actions prove this case is nothing more than a fake show for the elite.

    As the elected and mismanaged Office of the DA has shown the case is a consensual affair gone south. As was proven today by the ridiculous statements by the detective on the case who was an wacko dude who knew nothing about his own case.

    He was sustained and overruled more times than in any case i have sen in over 10 years. Judge Duffy sees this as one B.S. Dow case, no doubt Dow is a inexperienced dude and had to call in his own staff to help him. How he got elected is beyond me ? As two Jurors who were reading today’s Tribune shown about the case and the short Cummings of Dow is itself a reason for a mistrial let alone the “Brady” violations.

    What has happened to real honest, ethical and factual Justice, as two of the jurors the white dude in the long white Fu man chew cut and the red haired lady at lunch said this is a “Affair gone Jealous” what a silly case to waste our monies just because this DA Dow has once again F???? Up as usual.

    I agree with Deputy DA;s White, Dunn, Frey, Baird, Manderino Dow is out of his league and may very well be incompetent, maybe it is time to oust him and get a stable and mentally efficient man or woman in power. Dow is so far out of touch with the judicial facts and rules of law he has become a danger to our community.

    After court today it was revealed DA Dan Dow is a religious wacko case, i accept those who believe in faith but this guy is way out of the “Cue” of people i put him in the same place as the ” Benny Hinns of the World” a nut job. Now is the time for the recall of this crazy DA Dow who appears to be a real certified ” Wacko”

    1. DLANG says:

      Indeed to her today’s case was certainly an eye opener the DA is way out of his league and needs to go back to law school , no evidence the alleged Victim admitted she had consensual sex over and over and some other men’s DNA was on her breasts ?

      Their were over 18 Cal Poly students doing a paper on this case all because the professors figured this is a good case where the DA has run afoul of the law. Later the alleged Victim while with one of the DA’s Victims Advocates said now she did lie on the stand and just was jealous that the defendant did not want to still ” FUC?” her anymore.

      What a unreal case of a certainly fake case and Dow’s obsession for deviant sexual behavior I guess he is not getting his share ? Over 8 separate Lawyers came to watch the case and it was a show to watch…LOL even a Deputy AG from Los Angeles was watching she said she was their to observed as so many complaints are pouring in against DOW

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