All UMass gang-rape suspects ordered to submit DNA samples
NORTHAMPTON — Over the objections of defense attorneys, a judge Tuesday ordered the collection of DNA samples from three suspects in an alleged gang rape last October at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson ordered Emmanuel Bile, 19, and Adam Liccardi, 18, both of Pittsfield, and Caleb Womack, 18, of Windsor Locks, Conn., to submit DNA samples following the hearing.
A fourth defendant in the case, Justin King, 19, of Pittsfield, already had submitted a DNA sample.
Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl said the DNA is needed to compare to samples collected from three areas of the alleged victim’s body.
Liccardi’s attorney, Alfred Chamberland of Easthampton, argued that two of the samples from the victim were of limited quantity and should not be used as a basis for comparison.
Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, who is representing Womack, did not object to the DNA sample, but asked that he be present when it is collected. That condition was allowed by Josephson.
Josephson also ruled that any of the men’s samples that do not match the DNA collected from the alleged victim’s sample would be destroyed at the conclusion of all four cases.
The samples were collected following the hearing by taking swabs from inside each man’s cheek.
Suhl said depending on how much testing is required, waiting for the results could delay the start of a trial or trials now tentatively scheduled for December. Suhl said it is not clear if the men will all be tried together.
The defendants, all free on bail, are scheduled to return to court July 26 for a pre-trial hearing.
Each has pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated rape. Liccardi faces a fourth count for allegedly returning to the woman’s room and raping her again after the other three men had left. The defendants face potential life prison sentences if convicted.
None of the defendants are UMass students. According to prosecutors and court records, the four men bypassed dorm security to gain access to the alleged victim’s room when she was not there. When she returned, she agreed to socialize with the defendants and two other female friends, drinking vodka and smoking marijuana with them, according to court records. Prosecutors say the rapes occurred after the woman’s friends left her alone with the defendants.
The allegations prompted the university to hire Business Protection Specialists Inc. of Canandaigua, N.Y., to study safety protocols and equipment at the university’s six residence halls, as well as how the safeguards are applied by students, residence hall security and other members of the campus community.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.