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DNA expert, NAACP weigh in on problems with Madison Brooks rape case after Investigative Unit report

10 months 2 days 13 hours ago Thursday, July 27 2023 Jul 27, 2023 July 27, 2023 4:50 PM July 27, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — The state NAACP wants prosecutors to drop charges against four men facing rape charges filed following the death of LSU student Madison Brooks after the WBRZ Investigative Unit reported that DNA testing showed none of their genetic material inside the young woman's body.

Brooks died in January after being struck by a car on Burbank Drive. She was dropped off there by four men after leaving Reggie's Bar in Tigerland, about 3.5 miles away.

Prosecutors charged three men with first degree rape and one man with third degree rape, but evidence obtained by WBRZ raised questions about whether the woman was sexually assaulted.

DNA from one of the men charged was found on Brooks' external genitalia, but lab reports did not say whether it was from semen, other bodily fluids or dead skin cells.

Following the WBRZ report Wednesday night, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the station hadn't seen all the evidence and that prosecutors would push forward with the case.

The NAACP asked Moore to stop a "skewed application of the law."

"The DNA report presents an undeniable truth: none of the accused men’s DNA was found in Ms. Brooks," the NAACP said in a statement from its Baton Rouge chapter president Eugene Collins. "In any standard scenario, this level of reasonable doubt would lead to the dismissal of charges. However, the DA appears intent on pressing forward."

Three of the four men accused are black. 

Surveillance video shows Brooks chasing down the four men after a night of partying at Reggie's and leaving Tigerland in their car. The driver told detectives that two of his passengers had sex with the woman in the back seat, and one of the men, Kaivon Washington, told the Investigative Unit while on his way to jail that he had sex with the woman.

Washington has told detectives he did not have sex with her.

A DNA expert that WBRZ asked to review the investigative files said the information in a State Police Crime Laboratory analysis would appear to make it difficult for prosecutors to obtain a conviction.

"Since there's nothing internal, nothing, no male DNA, not just not a full profile or a partial profile but no male DNA present, it begs the question if anyone was there," lawyer Jarrett Ambeau said. "The absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence, but in a rape allegation there has to be some evidence of penetration and that's not present in this case."

Ambeau said that even if the men were wearing condoms, DNA would have been left behind somewhere.

"Any time you enter into an intimate act, you will leave skin cells," he said. "There's much more contact rather than just the requisite parts, because there's contact by the body in all ways.

"You would expect to find DNA in all places and it's just not there," he said. "With this DNA evidence, the DA is in a tough spot proving this case."

District Attorney Hillar Moore issued another statement Thursday:

This case was thoroughly investigated and arrest warrants were presented to judges who found probable cause for the arrests. Subsequently the investigation continued at which time a full presentation of all of the evidence available was presented to a grand jury After reviewing all of the evidence available, the grand jury, representing a cross section of this community, handed down the indictments in this case.

The select documents leaked to the media are only a fraction of the evidence. Based on publicly available information, including admissions and previous public statements from defense counsel, the fact that intercourse occurred in this case should not be in dispute. My office will always continue to evaluate new evidence that may come about. If there is other evidence out there, we will continue to review and consider. We will comply in all ways with the law and the procedures and mechanisms imposed by us both ethically and legally.

Out of respect for the integrity of the criminal process and all parties involved I encourage everyone to refrain from any judgement in this matter until all evidence has been presented inside of a courtroom. My office has never tried any defendant in the media and we will not start with this case. We are confident in the charges instituted against all will be supported by the evidence in its entirety.

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