By Meladi Brewer
GREENVILLE — The prosecution, led by Deborah Quigley, finished calling witnesses Tuesday, the second day of the Sutherland rape trial in Darke County Common Pleas Court. Judge Jonathan P. Hein presided.
Jeffrey “Scott” S. Sutherland, 33, of Greenville, is on trial for three counts of rape, felonies of the first degree, and one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a felony of the fourth degree. Sutherland is alleged to have inappropriately touched and raped a female family member under the age of 12 in April 2020. If convicted by the jury, Sutherland could face up to a life sentence in prison.
The victim’s mother testified Sutherland would watch the victim on days she had to work, or he would pick the victim up on days he got off before her. On the day of the reported incident, Sutherland was to pick the victim up from the grandfather’s house between 4 and 5 p.m. However, he was not able to due to the events leading up to his arrival.
“My sister kept calling me while I was at work,” the mother said. “I was in the middle of labor (as a nurse) and didn’t answer. I called her back later.”
The mother was informed the victim made accusations against Sutherland, and she rushed to her father’s house to talk to her daughter before taking her to Dayton Children’s Hospital where a sexual assault kit was performed and the victim was examined. After the examination, the nurse cleared the family before advising them to go to the Sheriff’s Office.
“She just said that everything looked good, and she would send the DNA out,” the mother said.
Rachel Newton, a forensic scientist at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, testified there was no DNA analysis done on the sexual assault kit as it was not ordered due to the extended period the report was taken and placed.
“Typically, if someone has showered it kind of washes away any type of evidence that could have been there, so therefore we won’t do anything,” Newton said. “Three days is a longer period, so you may be showering, changing clothes, going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth, etc.”
All the activities lead to the elimination of evidence needed to complete a successful DNA test as existing, leftover DNA is washed away. Having testified the DNA is not affected by time, the jury asked Newton if the swabs could still be sent for DNA testing despite the year wait.
“Yes, the samples are still in there, so if they are submitted, they could be processed,” Newton said. “It is up to the agency if they are going to submit it, and the laboratory director will decide whether to move forward with that.”
Having no DNA evidence, the prosecution had Detective Sergeant Christopher Clark and Detective Rachael Prickett testify regarding Sutherland’s phone search history. The search history showed that prior to the phone being seized on April 21, someone had utilized the phone to look up specific DNA questions pertaining to the case.
The search history included statements such as “How long does skin DNA last…, How long does skin DNA stay in…, How long does saliva stay in…” and more. Both Detective Prickett and Detective Sargeant Clark testified the history was found on the defendant’s phone, but there is no way to determine he was the one researching the data.
Similarly, Justin Root, a unit supervisor for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, testified regarding the analytics of Sutherland’s cellphone data cookies from the search history. Viewers were able to see evidence of the search history as well as time stamps, dates, and the content searched using Google regarding male DNA and sexual assault.
“The URL referrer indicated who sent them to that website, so in this case the referrer was Google.com,” Root said. “Which means someone went from Google to this website, and this website placed a cookie in its place.”
Root also testified the data cannot say who was searching, merely someone was searching for the said data. Despite the search history, it was testified by the mother and Detective Prickett that the defendant was not issued details regarding the allegations and did not know the specifics of the case, only that an investigation against him was being pursued.
“It (the conversation on April 20) was between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. for about seven minutes. All I said was he was being accused of sexual assault,” Detective Prickett said.
The next day, Prickett seized Sutherland’s phone via warrant and began collecting the above data.
Due to sensitive subject matter, the case will not be broadcast in the courtroom. The defense will call forth witnesses Wednesday.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].