Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Once ruled properly admissible the tracking dog evidence, albeit insufficient to convict by itself, must be considered along with all of the other evidence of identity in determining whether there was substantial evidence to convict. The test then becomes whether all of the evidence of identity, including that of the tracking dog, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, when viewed in the light most favorable to the state, is sufficient to permit a rational trier of the fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed the crime.
The victim, Ms. S., was awakened by an intruder in her house. He was wearing a sweatshirt with the hood over his head and it was dark, so she could not see his face. On the second time, the victim notified the police and described the rapist and how he smells. K.C., a police dog, picked up a scent on the bushes near the victim's house, but lost it at a nearby street intersection. K.C. picked up a scent again on the other side of the intersection after hunting for a while. The dog and Officer Kummerfeldt, his handler, ran down the street into a school yard, where they found defendant Edward Peter Nicholas. The police dog indicated that it was defendant's scent he was following. Defendant was held in custody where it was shown that defendant had the description the victim described for. Defendant was charged with first degree rape and first-degree burglary in connection with each of two incidents. The two incidents, which occurred approximately 6 months apart, had the same victim and involved similar circumstances. Defendant appealed his convictions which entered a judgment on a verdict of guilty and convicted defendant of one count of burglary in the first degree in violation of Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.52.020 and one count of rape in the first degree in violation of Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.44.040.
Was the defendant guilty of rape and burglary based on the evidence adduced?
Yes. The court affirmed defendant's convictions for rape and burglary.
The court affirmed defendant's convictions for rape and burglary. The court held that the tracking dog evidence was admissible after the laying of a proper foundation. Also, all of the evidence of identity, including that of the tracking dog, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, was sufficient to permit a rational trier of the fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was the perpetrator of the second rape and burglary. Moreover, the court found that defendant fit the victim's description of the rapist, he was close to the victim's residence, he was not excluded by the medical tests, he had fresh bleeding cuts and scratches on his face, and the fingernail scrapings taken from the victim contained human blood. The court then held that the secretor type tests were relevant on the issue of identity because they limited the field of possible perpetrators. Thus, the court ruled that the verdict of not guilty as to the earlier rape charges implied nothing as to defendant's' guilt of the second rape and burglary. The court concluded that the verdicts were not inconsistent.