Day 4 — Cercy Trial: Wyoming Crime Lab Analyst Outlines DNA Research
In her opening statement at the beginning of the sexual assault trial of Casper businessman Tony Cercy on Tuesday, his lead defense attorney argued the alleged assault of a young woman did not not happen.
Pamela Mackey specifically cited the lack of DNA evidence linking her client to then 20-year-old woman.
Cercy is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault (rape), one count of second-degree and one count of third degree sexual assault on the 20-year-old woman. If convicted on all counts, he faces between seven and 85 years of imprisonment.
Thursday, the fourth day of the scheduled six-day trial, Natrona County District Attorney called Wyoming Crime Lab analyst Jennifer Brammier to testify about the process of examining deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the double-helix molecule that contains the unique genetic code of all known living organisms.
Brammier said her job at the crime lab starts with the initial collection of evidence.
And that began with testimony from Natrona County Sheriff's investigator Taylor Courtney and Sheriff's patrol officer Michael Moravec who told the jury at Natrona County District Court how they collected evidence.
Courtney said he and another officer went to Cercy's home on Wolf Creek at 5:25 p.m. June 28 to inform him of the search warrants for his Alcova lake house where the alleged assault occurred the night of June 24-25. Cercy told them where they could find the key to the house,
Cercy also agreed to go to the Sheriff's Office and have his mouth swabbed for a DNA sample.
Courtney described how he conducted the exam by putting on gloves to prevent DNA cross-contamination, and swabbed the area between Cercy's gums and cheeks on both sides of his face for saliva.
He placed the swabs in small rectangular boxes, which were paced in an envelope and then in an evidence bag, and finally in a locker separate from other evidence, he said.
Moravec said he responded to a call from the Wyoming Medical Center at 11:06 a.m. June 28 to meet with hospital personnel, the alleged victim and her parents. There, she would undergo a sexual assault examination and be interviewed.
He interviewed the alleged victim, who would not let her parents be with her, he said. She recounted her experience the previous weekend, which Moravec wrote in a report later that day.
A denim bag with her clothing from the weekend was brought to the hospital, Moravec said. At one point, the mother reached in the bag and Moravec told her to pull out her hand so as not to contaminate the clothing with her DNA, he said.
Moravec took the bag and logged it into evidence and placed it in a storage locker at the Sheriff's Office, he said.
From there, it went to the Wyoming Crime Lab.
Brammeir said DNA is in every cell of our bodies, it occurs in greater or lesser concentrations depending on the tissue or fluids, and it can be transferred from people to people and people to objects such as clothing.
Blonigen joked that testing it isn't a matter of shoving clothing in a machine for analysis.
Brammeir said the technology to examine it is very sensitive. Tests for DNA use swabs such as those to collect saliva, or pieces of clothing are cut in very small pieces for testing.
DNA may be more prevalent in some areas of an article of clothing or an area of the body, she said.
Brammeir's testimony about DNA testing will continue when the trial resumes at the Townsend Justice Center, 115 N. Center St., at 8:30 a.m. Friday.