Analyst: Man’s DNA found on girl’s underwear
Beach accused of sexual assault
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A state police DNA analyst testified Wednesday in Blair County Court that she linked bodily fluids on a girl’s underpants to the Altoona man being tried this week on sexual assault charges.
Forensic scientist Veronica Miller told the jury that she examined fluids found on two areas of the underpants submitted by investigating police officers.
Both areas, Miller said, rendered test results showing DNA linked to defendant Richard W. Beach.
Beach, who lived in Altoona and Logan Township before his July 16, 2016, arrest, is accused of sexually assaulting two girls at his residence when they between 14 and 17 years old. Since his arrest, he has remained in the Blair County Prison.
Beach went on trial Monday and elected to represent himself with help from defense attorney Scott N. Pletcher as standby counsel. His defense is expected to begin today with an opening statement that he elected not to offer on Monday.
Beach’s charges include rape by forcible compulsion, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years old. Altoona and Logan Township police filed the charges based on the allegations of two girls, one who revealed the assaults to her mother and another who revealed the assaults to a friend and a teacher.
First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks and Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith wrapped up their case Wednesday after calling multiple witnesses including both alleged victims and investigating police officers Matthew Dunio of Logan Township and Nichole Douglas, retired from the Altoona Police Department.
Miller’s testimony was supplemented by testimony from fellow state police laboratory technician Jessica Badger, who described using a light to find bodily fluids on two places of the girl’s underwear.
Beach, who cross-examined Miller and Badger, suggested that semen found on the front of the underwear could have been deposited there without any physical contact. Beach also suggested that the underpants could have come in contact with semen on other clothing or at another location, which would have allowed the underpants to absorb the bodily fluids.
“No, DNA does not tell you how semen got on the underwear,” Miller replied to a question from Beach.
Beach is expected to bolster his defense today with testimony from Arthur W. Young, a forensic biology specialist from eastern Pennsylvania.
Young prepared a two-page report for the defense, pointing out that the DNA testing techniques rendered no evidence of anal intercourse as mentioned in other witness reports. But Young may not be able to raise that discrepancy when testifying. That’s a credibility argument and not an opinion based on expertise and knowledge, President Judge Elizabeth A. Doyle concluded during a post-trial proceeding.
Doyle also asked Beach, outside the presence of the jury, for a list of witnesses and their proposed testimony, partly so she can consider how to move the case along so it wraps up on Friday as scheduled. Doyle has also ruled that Beach can recall some prosecution witnesses, but only to develop his defense and not to repeat questions already asked.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.