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People v. Hood.

2024 COA 27. No. 21CA1808. Unlawful Sexual Behavior—Rape Shield Statute—DNA Testing—Relevancy of Evidence—Exclusion of Relevant Evidence.

March 14, 2024

Hood moved in with family members, including his cousin and his cousin’s daughter, K.H., who was 15 years old at the time. K.H. alleged that Hood came into her room one night and sexually assaulted her. K.H. testified that the day after the assault, she showered and changed clothes and then went to school. While at school, K.H. told her boyfriend about the assault and then called her father and told him. Later that day, K.H. went to the hospital and was examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner, who took cheek, anal, external vaginal, and cervical swabs. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s analysis of the swabs did not detect Hood’s DNA, but DNA from at least one male contributor other than Hood was detected on the external vaginal swab. The prosecution filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of the other DNA profile under the rape shield statute. Defense counsel argued that there was no rape shield issue. The court granted the motion in limine. Hood was convicted of one count of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and one count of unlawful sexual contact.

On appeal, Hood argued that the district court erred by misapplying the rape shield statute to exclude evidence that DNA from someone other than Hood was detected on the victim’s external genitalia. By itself, DNA from someone other than the defendant that is found on a victim’s external genitalia is not evidence of “specific instances of the victim’s . . . prior or subsequent sexual conduct” that is deemed presumptively irrelevant under the rape shield statute. Accordingly, the court misapplied the rape shield statute to exclude the DNA evidence. Further, the DNA evidence was relevant under CRE 401 and not inadmissible under CRE 403, and the evidence was highly disputed, so its exclusion was not harmless.

The judgment of conviction was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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