Residents were alarmed last summer by a rash of thefts, trespasses and burglaries in Stonegate, a neighborhood in Douglas County.
Fear turned to panic in July after an intruder reportedly climbed into a second- story window and groped an 8-year-old girl in her bed.
A sicko was on the loose and pressure was on to catch him.
A week later, Sheriff David Weaver announced that his office had made an arrest.
What Weaver didn't say is that the suspect, Tyler Sanchez, a thin 19-year-old redhead, looks nothing like the 40ish, stockier, brown-haired intruder described by the victim.
What the sheriff left out is that Sanchez has serious cognitive delays.
What the news release failed to mention was that investigators' only evidence against him is a short statement that seems to repeat what Sanchez was told about the crime during 17 hours of interrogation by detectives who didn't seem to catch that he's mentally disabled and hearing impaired.
And what prosecutors continue to ignore is the key physical evidence in the case.
Records show underwear the victim says her molester yanked to her knees bears the DNA of two other people: her father and an unknown male. Neither of the genetic profiles match Sanchez. The young man who continues to be charged is excluded from the only piece of physical evidence that would tie him to the assault.
Officials have gone too far.
Detectives' methods seem coercive at best. Sanchez's so-called confession mirrors details about break-ins that investigators told him as they wore him down during 38 hours with little food or sleep.
What prosecutors say is a pattern of escalating behavior is nothing more than a deferred judgment from a 2007 juvenile graffiti case followed by a probation violation when Sanchez was caught with the smell of alcohol on his breath.
"This is not an isolated incident," prosecutor Brian Sugioka said in court. "He said he did these things."
District Attorney Carol Chambers' office should have dropped the case when the state released its DNA report in November. Instead, the 18th Judicial District official keeps pressing charges because she says the results don't prove anything.
"With the low-cut jeans that girls wear, she could have picked up anyone's DNA off any surface her panties touched while they may have been riding up above her pants. I hate those low-cut pants," Chambers said Friday, swear to God.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Sunday, February 21, 2010