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People v. Zapata

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

April 15, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RODOLFO ZAPATA, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kendall County. No. 11-CF-28. Honorable John A. Barsanti, Judge, Presiding.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

Defendant's conviction for criminal sexual assault was upheld on appeal over his contention that under the plain-error rule, the trial court erred in admitting testimony about Y-STR analysis of DNA found on complainant's underwear without a Frye hearing to determine whether the methodology or scientific principle involved was sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance, since a Frye hearing was unnecessary in view of the unequivocal and undisputed prior judicial decisions and technical writings on the subject.

Thomas A. Lilien and Barbara R. Paschen, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.

Eric C. Weis, State's Attorney, of Yorkville (Lawrence M. Bauer and Marshall M. Stevens, both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

PRESIDING JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McLaren and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

BURKE, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

Page 1189

[¶1] Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Kendall County, defendant, Rodolfo Zapata, was found guilty of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13(a)(2) (West 2010)) and was sentenced to an eight-year prison term. On appeal, defendant argues that it was error to admit testimony about Y-STR analysis of a specimen of DNA found on the complaining witness's underwear. We affirm.

[¶2] At trial, the State presented evidence that on June 27, 2010, the complaining witness, Corinne M., and her friend, Pedro Garcia, were drinking at a bar in Yorkville with a group of people that included, among others, defendant, Lino Garcia, and Chris Garcia. Lino and Chris Garcia were brothers and defendant was their cousin on their mother's side. Pedro was not related to Lino and Chris. Corinne testified that she drank beer and shots of Red Bull and some type of liquor. After the bar closed, the group went to a house in Yorkville where Lino, Chris, and defendant resided. The group continued to drink, played cards, and socialized.

Page 1190

Corinne and Pedro planned to sleep over at the house that night, and Corinne borrowed a pair of shorts to sleep in. After changing into the shorts, Corinne joined Pedro, Lino, and defendant in the family room. At some point, Lino and defendant left to go to bed. Corinne and Pedro stayed up talking and playing cards. They also continued drinking. Corinne testified that she started to feel dizzy after having some wine. She went into the bathroom and threw up into the toilet. She then lay down on the bathroom floor and fell asleep.

[¶3] Corinne testified that, when she awoke, she felt someone's penis in her vagina. She observed that defendant was " spooning" her. Her shorts and underwear had been pulled down. She started yelling at defendant and he ran out of the bathroom. Lino and Pedro woke up and Lino helped Corinne look for defendant in the house. Corinne testified that she did not find defendant. Corinne took a shower, and Pedro then drove her to the emergency room at an Aurora hospital. When Corinne got dressed after her shower, she did not put on the pair of underwear she had been wearing when the sexual assault occurred. She took that pair of underwear to the hospital and it was preserved for forensic analysis.

[¶4] At the hospital, a rape kit was performed. William Enselme, a forensic scientist employed by the Illinois State Police, testified that he tested vaginal, oral, and rectal swabs collected in the rape kit for the presence of semen and saliva. The tests were negative for both substances. Enselme visually examined head and pubic hair combings, but found nothing that would warrant further analysis. He noted " spec[k]s of debris" on scrapings from underneath Corinne's fingernails. Enselme also examined Corinne's underwear. He noted that the crotch area was stained with a slightly yellowish substance. The stain measured 5 1/2 inches long by 1 ...


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