State v. Med. Eagle

Decision Date07 August 2013
Docket NumberNo. 26346.,26346.
Citation2013 S.D. 60,835 N.W.2d 886
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Gabriel Darryn MEDICINE EAGLE, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General, Kirsten E. Jasper, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

Paul E. Jensen of Jensen & Massa, Winner, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice.

[¶ 1.] M.E.H. alleges she was kidnapped and raped by Gabriel Darryn Medicine Eagle, Junior, on September 23, 2000. In 2001, Medicine Eagle was indicted, but the charges were later dismissed when DNA testing failed to implicate Medicine Eagle. In 2008, the case was reopened and the evidence obtained in 2000 was retested using a new method of DNA testing. This time, the testing revealed the presence of Medicine Eagle's DNA. On December 3, 2009, the grand jury indicted Medicine Eagle on various charges stemming from the alleged rape. Further, a Part II Information was filed charging Medicine Eagle as a habitual offender pursuant to SDCL 22–7–7. At trial, the court admitted evidence of an incident involving Medicine Eagle and S.M., which allegedly occurred in 2003, as other acts evidence pursuant to SDCL 19–12–5 (Rule 404(b)). Additionally, the trial court permitted the State to elicit testimony from a forensic DNA analyst regarding the results of DNA testing performed in 2008 and 2011, even though some steps of the testing were performed by nontestifying analysts. The jury found Medicine Eagle guilty of one count of rape in the second degree, one count of rape in the third degree, sexual contact with a child under age 16, and kidnapping. In a separate trial, the jury found that Medicine Eagle was a habitual offender. Medicine Eagle appeals.

FACTS

[¶ 2.] On September 23, 2000, 15–year–old M.E.H. was in Winner, South Dakota, to attend a funeral. M.E.H. was staying with her grandmother, who lived in a housing development just outside of Winner. At approximately 6:00 p.m., M.E.H. had sexual intercourse with her 16–year–old boyfriend Patrick Red Bird while the two were alone at the house. Shortly thereafter, M.E.H., her brother, her cousin, and her friend left the house and walked to town. At approximately 10:30 p.m., M.E.H. began walking home in order to make her 11:00 p.m. curfew.

[¶ 3.] M.E.H. alleges that while she was walking home, 23–year–old Medicine Eagle and his passenger approached her in Medicine Eagle's van and offered to give her a ride home. M.E.H. recognized the passenger, and accepted the ride. M.E.H. claims Medicine Eagle proceeded to drop the passenger off at his home. After dropping the passenger off, M.E.H. claims Medicine Eagle drove back into town to buy beer at a gas station and then drove to the bowling alley so M.E.H. could look for her cousin. When M.E.H. was unable to locate her cousin, she got back in Medicine Eagle's vehicle so that he could take her home. At this point, M.E.H. alleges Medicine Eagle began driving erratically. Despite her repeated requests to be taken home, M.E.H. asserts Medicine Eagle drove to a desolate field outside of Winner. Upon reaching the field, M.E.H. alleges she tried to run away from the van to get help. However, M.E.H. claims Medicine Eagle caught her and dragged her back to the van by her hair. M.E.H. alleges Medicine Eagle then forced her into the van and raped her. According to M.E.H., Medicine Eagle threatened her throughout the incident. M.E.H. claims Medicine Eagle drove her home after the rape. Medicine Eagle disputes these allegations.

[¶ 4.] When M.E.H. arrived at home, she told her mother she had been raped. At 2:00 a.m. on September 24, 2000, M.E.H. was taken to the hospital, where she was examined and a rape kit was collected. The rape kit evidence and M.E.H.'s clothing were subsequently sent to the South Dakota State Forensic Laboratory for testing. After M.E.H. was discharged from the hospital, she was interviewed by law enforcement. At this point in time, she did not inform law enforcement that she had sexual intercourse with Red Bird prior to the alleged rape. In 2001, Medicine Eagle was indicted on charges stemming from the alleged rape.

[¶ 5.] At the South Dakota State Forensic Laboratory, criminalist Stacy Smith conducted serology testing to check for the presence of bodily fluids on the evidence. While conducting the testing, Smith established the presence of bodily fluids on the vaginal swab and the underwear that were collected as part of M.E.H.'s rape kit. However, prior to 2002, the South Dakota State Forensic Laboratory did not do DNA testing. As a result, Smith sent M.E.H.'s vaginal swab, Medicine Eagle's buccal swab, and M.E.H.'s blood sample to the Orchid Cellmark (formerly known as GeneScreen) lab in Texas for DNA testing.

[¶ 6.] At the time, Amber Moss worked at Orchid Cellmark (Cellmark) as a forensic scientist. In August 2001, Moss received the evidence sent by Smith. Moss performed DNA testing on the vaginal swab, and compared it to the DNA profiles obtained from Medicine Eagle's buccal swab and M.E.H.'s blood sample. The only DNA profile Moss was able to obtain during the testing was consistent with M.E.H.'s DNA profile. Moss sent these results to Smith at the South Dakota State Forensic Laboratory.

[¶ 7.] Shortly thereafter, Smith sent a cutting from M.E.H.'s underwear to Cellmark for DNA testing. Moss performed DNA testing on the sample and compared the DNA profiles obtained from the underwear cutting to the DNA profiles of M.E.H. and Medicine Eagle. Medicine Eagle was not implicated by the results of this round of DNA testing. Instead, the only male DNA profile Moss was able to obtain was from an unknown male individual. Upon completion of the testing, Cellmark retained the extractions from M.E.H.'s vaginal swab and M.E.H.'s underwear cutting in a secured area at the lab.

[¶ 8.] Because the DNA testing failed to implicate Medicine Eagle and instead revealed the presence of DNA from an unidentified male, the charges against Medicine Eagle were dismissed. In 2008, the case was reopened after law enforcement learned M.E.H. had been sexually involved with Red Bird on the day of the alleged rape. Using the DNA index system known as CODIS, Smith was able to match the DNA profile of the unidentified male that was obtained by Cellmark in 2001 to Red Bird. Smith then made inquiries about whether a new DNA-testing method known as Y–STR testing, which was unavailable when the evidence was originally tested in 2001, might produce additional results. The South Dakota State Forensic Laboratory did not do Y–STR testing at this point in time, so Smith contacted Cellmark to perform the testing.

[¶ 9.] In 2008, Cellmark was asked to perform Y–STR testing on the vaginal swab DNA extract and the underwear cutting DNA extract that Cellmark had retained from the 2001 DNA testing and to compare those extracts to Red Bird's DNA profile and Medicine Eagle's DNA profile. Barbara Leal, a forensic DNA analyst, performed the quantitation, dilution, and amplification steps on the extracts.1 As Cellmark used a team approach to DNA testing, the additional steps associated with the Y–STR testing were performed by other analysts. The results of the Y–STR testing revealed that Medicine Eagle could not be excluded as a contributor to the non-sperm cell fraction of the vaginal swab or the non-sperm cell fraction of the underwear cutting.2 In May 2011, Cellmarkwas also asked to perform Y–STR testing on M.E.H.'s bra, which Cellmark received from Smith. Leal performed the dilution and amplification steps of the Y–STR testing on the bra sample. Additionally, Leal completed the analysis of the results and wrote a report containing her conclusions. The results of the Y–STR testing of the bra sample established that Medicine Eagle could not be excluded as a contributor to the sample. As to each of these samples, Leal's statistical analyses indicated that although Medicine Eagle could not be excluded as a contributor, 99.97 percent of paternally unrelated males would be excluded as contributors to the samples.

[¶ 10.] On December 3, 2009, the grand jury indicted Medicine Eagle on four counts of second-degree rape, three counts of third-degree rape, one count of sexual contact with a child under age 16, and four counts of kidnapping as a result of the incident that allegedly occurred between Medicine Eagle and M.E.H. in September 2000. Additionally, on July 14, 2010, the State filed a Part II Information charging Medicine Eagle as a habitual offender pursuant to SDCL 22–7–7, because Medicine Eagle had a prior felony conviction. Medicine Eagle was arraigned on the charges on August 3, 2010, and pleaded not guilty.

[¶ 11.] Prior to trial, the parties filed various motions. On July 21, 2011, the State filed a motion to introduce other acts evidence pursuant to SDCL 19–12–5 (Rule 404(b)), based on an incident that allegedly occurred between Medicine Eagle and thirteen-year-old S.M. on January 29, 2003. S.M. alleged that on that date Medicine Eagle called her home at approximately 4:00 a.m. looking for her sister. According to S.M., Medicine Eagle told her that her mother needed help at work. S.M. claimed Medicine Eagle said he was at the house next door and offered to give her a ride. S.M. did not personally know Medicine Eagle, but she accepted the ride because Medicine Eagle knew her sister. S.M. claimed Medicine Eagle's driving was erratic, and that he forced her to drink vodka while they were driving. Additionally, instead of taking S.M. to her mother, S.M. alleged Medicine Eagle drove to a field outside of town. Once the vehicle stopped and S.M. tried to run away, S.M. claimed Medicine Eagle grabbed her, dragged her back to his vehicle by her hair, and engaged in sexual contact with her. S.M. asserted the attack ended when she told Medicine Eagle she was going to tell...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 cases
  • State v. Miller
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 5, 2021
    ...testifying expert in Bullcoming , is an example of the latter. One example of the former was the testifying expert in State v. Medicine Eagle, 835 N.W.2d 886 (S.D. 2013), which Miller cites in his brief. In that case, Barbara Leal, a forensic DNA analyst, performed some of the bench work th......
  • Commonwealth v. Brown
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • June 1, 2018
    ...; State v. Navarette , 294 P.3d 435, 436 (N.M. 2013) ; Martin v. State , 60 A.3d 1100, 1108–09 (Del. 2013) ; State v. Medicine Eagle , 835 N.W.2d 886, 898–99 (S.D. 2013) ; Young v. United States , 63 A.3d 1033, 1048 (D.C. 2013) ; Rosario v. State , 175 So.3d 843, 861–62 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.......
  • State v. Watson
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • May 1, 2018
    ...(2013) ; Com. v. Yohe, 621 Pa. 527, 79 A.3d 520, 540–41 (2013) ; State v. Lopez, 45 A.3d 1, 13–14 (R.I. 2012) ; State v. Medicine Eagle, 835 N.W.2d 886, 898–99 (S.D. 2013) ; State v. Manion, 173 Wash.App. 610, 295 P.3d 270, 272, 278–79 (2013) ; State v. Griep, 361 Wis.2d 657, 863 N.W.2d 567......
  • State v. Berget
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • August 13, 2014
    ...See State v. Rhines (Rhines I ), 1996 S.D. 55, ¶ 101, 548 N.W.2d 415, 441. The State has the burden to prove harmless error. State v. Medicine Eagle, 2013 S.D. 60, ¶ 60, 835 N.W.2d 886, 905 (citing State v. Nelson, 1998 S.D. 124, ¶ 8, 587 N.W.2d 439, 443 ).The State has proven that the aggr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT