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State v. Fasthorse

December 9, 2009

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE,
v.
VINCENT CHAD FASTHORSE, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA HONORABLE GLEN A. SEVERSON Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Meierhenry, Justice

ARGUED ON OCTOBER 6, 2009

[¶1.] A jury found Vincent Fasthorse guilty of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and rape. Fasthorse appeals. We affirm.

FACTS AND BACKGROUND

[¶2.] On September 14, 2007, Fasthorse attended a house party at his uncle's residence. A.S. was also at that party. As the party was ending, A.S. and Fasthorse agreed he would give her a ride to her boyfriend's house. Fasthorse, however, drove A.S. past her boyfriend's house and continued to a country road where he turned onto a trail that led into a cornfield.

[¶3.] After parking the car, Fasthorse attempted to kiss A.S. She recoiled from his advance and got out of the vehicle. She tried to escape by running back to the country road. Fasthorse ran after her and was able to catch her by tripping her. Fasthorse forced A.S. to return to the vehicle and into the back seat. He then raped her twice. After the second rape, A.S. fled and ran toward the country road where she was picked up by a Good Samaritan who gave her a ride home. A.S. subsequently went to the hospital emergency room where she was examined by a physician. The physician, as part of the examination, performed a rape kit. A.S. suffered injuries in addition to those directly associated with the rape. The police were contacted, and an officer interviewed her about what had taken place. At all times A.S. maintained that Fasthorse was the person responsible for the rape and injuries she sustained.

[¶4.] At trial, Fasthorse claimed A.S.'s rendition of the facts was not supported by forensic evidence. A.S. told the medical personnel attending to her injuries that she had not had sex with any other person in the 72 hours preceding the rape. Fasthorse argued DNA evidence contradicted A.S.'s testimony, in that, the sperm cell fraction from her underwear revealed DNA from at least three contributors. The test revealed the presence of equal concentrations of DNA from both Fasthorse and A.S.'s boyfriend. Equal DNA concentrations indicated the two sexual encounters likely occurred within 12 to 24 hours of each other. This scientific evidence stood in contrast to A.S.'s statements to medical staff that she had not had sexual intercourse in the 72 hours before the rape. The trial court did not allow Fasthorse to cross-examine A.S. or medical personnel about the discrepancy between A.S.'s claim regarding her lack of sexual activity and DNA evidence. Fasthorse was able, however, to cross-examine the State's DNA expert concerning A.S.'s conflicting testimony.

[¶5.] At the time of trial, A.S. was serving a sentence in the county jail for maintaining a drug house. Fasthorse argued A.S.'s conviction on drug charges was relevant to impeach her credibility concerning prior drug use, bias, or her motive in testifying against Fasthorse. The trial court prohibited Fasthorse from introducing evidence of the conviction on the basis that it was irrelevant or without proper foundation.

ISSUES

1. Whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury verdict finding Fasthorse guilty of kidnapping and aggravated assault.

2. Whether the method of selecting potential jurors denied Fasthorse due process rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article VI, Section 7 of the South Dakota Constitution.

3. Whether limiting Fasthorse's cross-examination of A.S. denied him the right to a fair trial pursuant to Article VI, Sections 2 and 7 of the South Dakota Constitution, and the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

ANALYSIS

Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault ...


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