State v. Morgan
The mere presence of unidentified DNA, in addition to the defendant's DNA on evidence, did not render the evidence that his DNA was present irrelevant or nonprobative; the presence of the other DNA was a matter for the jury's consideration. Following a jury trial, Robert Morgan was convicted of multiple crimes in two dockets. In the first docket, concerning the abduction and rape at gunpoint of a University of Connecticut college student walking home to her dormitory, Morgan was convicted of, inter alia, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm. In the second docket, concerning the attempted abduction of a yoga instructor having lunch on a hillside at the university, Morgan was convicted of attempt to commit aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and attempt to commit kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm. Morgan appealed claiming, first, that insufficient evidence supported the verdicts. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgments. For the first case, the panel disagreed with the defendant's claims that the DNA found on the student's shirt was the only evidence offered by the state and that it was legally insufficient because of other, unidentified DNA on the shirt. The Court did not need to determine whether the DNA evidence alone was sufficient. Additional evidence combined with the DNA evidence to support the verdict and included the victim's description of her attacker and clothing similar to her description found in the defendant's bedroom. The probative force of the additional evidence was not diminished simply because it consisted of circumstantial rather than direct evidence. The DNA evidence identifying the defendant was both relevant and probative. The presence of other unidentified DNA was a matter for the jury and did not render the evidence of the defendant's DNA irrelevant or nonprobative. Similar challenges in the second case similarly failed. The defendant also claimed that the court abused its discretion in granting the state's motion to consolidate the cases for trial. The court applied a presumption in favor of consolidation later disavowed by the 2012 Supreme Court case of State v. Payne. The Appellate Court found the application of the presumption harmless because the state submitted sufficient proof that the evidence in both cases was cross admissible.