DNA Collections Entered Into Evidence On Day 3 Of Trial

Dennis L. Park pictured in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville. Park is facing charges of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree criminal sex act. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

MAYVILLE — DNA collections were entered into evidence in the ongoing rape and sexual assault trial of Conewango resident Dennis L. Park.

And Tracey Rex, a nurse at UPMC Chautauqua who attended to two women who were reportedly sexual assaulted, took the stand Thursday as well.

Park, 34, is facing charges of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree criminal sex act for incidents that took place July 11 and July 17 in 2018.

Both women, who are not being identified because they are the alleged victims of abuse, received treatment at UPMC Chautauqua. Rex, the sexual assault nurse examiner at the hospital, took the stand and confirmed she made contact with both women after their alleged assaults.

Rex detailed the process of collecting DNA and completing a 15-step rape kit.

Both rape kits of the two alleged victims were entered into evidence.

The prosecution is being handled by Michael Flaherty of the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office. More witnesses are expected to take the stand today when court resumes.

The trial is being heard in front of Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley.

Park is being represented by Public Defender Ned Barone. Before court resumed Thursday, Barone called for a mistrial based on media coverage the case has received this week. Foley denied the motion.

Barone, for much of Thursday on cross-examination, asked Rex to go over the rape kit process and the events of July 11 and July 17.

Officer Shawn Keppel of the Jamestown Police Department took the stand as well.

He was the responding officer for the July 11 incident after one of the women claimed she was raped near Chandler Street in Jamestown.

She said Park, holding a knife, demanded sexual acts in exchange for her safety.

Flaherty called several members of the Jamestown Police Department. In doing so, the assistant district attorney was able to enter rape kits taken from both alleged victims into evidence.

Additionally, DNA swabs from Park were entered into evidence.

However, the knife that the prosecution has claimed Park used in at least one of the assaults has yet to be entered into evidence. The knife in question was discussed between one of the victims and Flaherty.

Barone called for a mistrial, citing a lack of “chain of custody” establishing the knife as evidence. His motion was denied, despite Foley removing the knife and the bag containing it from the courtroom until the prosecution attempts to enter it into evidence again.

The alleged victim of the July 11 incident also indicated that Park used a knife during the assault.

The same woman finished her testimony on the stand Thursday with the understanding that she may be called back at a later time. Barone noted to Foley that a video the defense intended on entering as an exhibit in the trial was facing technical difficulties and therefore wasn’t shown to the woman. If the video becomes playable and the defense intends to use it, the woman will likely be called back to the courtroom to testify again.