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Pelletier v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 8, 2017

VICTOR LAWRENCE PELLETIER, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Henry W. Latham II, Judge.

         Petitioner appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas J. O'Flaherty of O'Flaherty Law Firm, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kristin Guddall (until withdrawal) and Kevin Cmelik, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         This appeal arises from a postconviction-relief proceeding in which Victor Pelletier challenged his conviction for sexual abuse in the third degree. The offense conduct was set forth in our opinion resolving Pelletier's direct appeal:

Pelletier was charged with sexual abuse based on allegations he put his mouth on the penis of C.H., the twelve-year-old neighbor he was babysitting while C.H.'s mother was away overnight. Another neighbor, Doug Peiffer, testified he was at home around 5:30 a.m. on a cold winter morning when he heard C.H. pounding on the door while screaming, "He's raping me. He's raping me." When Doug opened the door, a hysterical C.H. darted into the house. C.H. was carrying his coat and shoes and wearing one sock. Doug called the victim's mother, who called the police. Officer Thompson arrived, talked with C.H., and testified to C.H.'s demeanor-being in shock.
Kathleen Wiseman, Doug's mother, testified she was sleeping and was awakened by C.H. banging on the door. Further, C.H. "came running in and crying, 'That man raped me. That man raped me.'"
Later that morning, Officer Crouch interviewed Pelletier at the police station. Officer Crouch testified Pelletier stated he and C.H. were on the couch underneath a blanket watching a movie and they both fell asleep. Pelletier denied abusing C.H., and he asserted the incident was C.H.'s dream or C.H. was just out to get him. Further:
Mr. Pelletier stated . . . he woke up . . . got up to go to the bathroom, went to the bathroom, got a cigarette, came back to the living room to where the couch was located, [C.H.] was gone.
. . . .
C.H. testified to the events at issue. Pelletier watched a movie with him, and they sat together on the couch. When C.H. fell asleep on the couch, Pelletier was in another room with his girlfriend, Heather Anderson. C.H. awoke to Pelletier lifting up the blanket and "trying to cuddle" with him. C.H. "just immediately froze" and Pelletier pulled down C.H.'s pants and underwear. After Pelletier sucked on C.H.'s penis, Pelletier stood up and walked into the bathroom. C.H. pulled up his underwear and pants and ran to the closest neighbor's house-Doug Peiffer's house. C.H. pounded on the door and "I told him the babysitter raped me."

A DNA expert, Kristin Evans, testified the enzyme amylase is found in saliva as well as in minute amounts in other bodily fluids. She analyzed the physical evidence and detected a strong presence of amylase on the inside of the back of C.H.'s underwear. The substance contained a mixture of DNA from two different sources. Assuming C.H. as one source, the remaining and major contributor of genetic material was consistent with the DNA profile of Pelletier. Because this profile was incomplete, Evans did not testify to a "match." However, she testified the likelihood another person would have the same genetic profile discovered on the inside of C.H.'s underwear and consistent with Pelletier's DNA profile was 1 in 470 million. Evans stated: "When it is on the inside of the victim's clothing, then yes, it is probative." A slightly elevated level of amylase was also found on the fly and crotch of C.H.'s jeans, but a profile could not be developed.

Anderson, Pelletier's girlfriend, testified she awoke during the night and saw Pelletier and C.H. ...

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