Tony Cercy Trial Begins With New DNA Evidence
THERMOPOLIS -- The sexual assault retrial of Casper businessman Tony Cercy began in the Hot Springs County Courthouse with Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigan dropping a virtual bomb in his opening statement on Tuesday.
Blonigen told the courtroom that new DNA tests conducted on the couch in the former home of Cercy at Alcova Lake tested positive for the DNA of not only Cercy, but the alleged victim in the case. And the positive samples came from the same area on the couch, he said.
This is the couch where the alleged victim says she fell asleep after a party and awoke to Cercy attempting oral sex.
The tests were performed in July, five months after the first trial ended in February when a jury in Casper acquitted Cercy on counts of first- and second-degree sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman at his former home at Alcova lake in June 2017.
The jury deadlocked on a count of third-degree sexual assault, and Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey declared a mistrial.
The alleged victim asked District Attorney Mike Blonigen to retry the third-degree count in March.
Cercy and his defense team Pamela Mackey and Jeffrey Pagliuca of Denver asked Forgey to change the venue and the judge granted the request in June.
The jury of 11 women and three men was impaneled Friday, and the trial began with Blonigen's opening statement in the courtroom filled with family and friends of both sides in the case.
Before speaking, Forgey reminded the jury that attorney's comments are not evidence. Witnesses will provide the evidence and the jury has the responsibility to evaluate it.
Mackey took the prosecution to task in her opening statement, saying Cercy is charged with a serious crime, but the alleged victim story, or rather stories, undermine her accusations.
Regarding DNA evidence, she said the alleged victim did not agree to undergo a rape kit examination until June 28, three days after the alleged assault and only after she told her parents.
The only DNA found on the alleged victim's cervix was from her boyfriend who had sex with her on previous Friday, and that DNA was still present on June 28th. There was no DNA from Cercy, Mackey said.
"It's not there because it didn't happen," Mackey said.
Regarding the DNA on the couch, she retorted, "it's his couch."
She said there is no way to determine when Cercy's DNA, or for that matter the alleged victim's, came to be on the couch, therefore it is useless as evidence.
She also repeated some of the evidence from the first trial saying that dogs that were in the house were not awakened by the supposed sexual activity and did not bark.
Mackey said footsteps on a health app on a smartphone belonging to the alleged victim are not conclusive as it is not a reliable tool.
And a couple of brief videos of the night on Cercy's phone when he said he was sleeping had audio indicated someone sleeping.
After the opening statements, the prosecution took a different strategy than that of the first trial when the alleged victim was the first to testify.
Blonigen first called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at the Wyoming Medical Center who examined the alleged victim on June 28; then a Natrona County Sheriff's evidence technician who took photos of Cercy's former house at Alcova Lake and removed the pillows and cushion covers of the couch; and Natrona County Sheriff's Investigator Taylor Courtney who served the search warrants for Cercy's DNA and the for the house at the lake.
The trial resumes Tuesday afternoon, and K2Radio.com will provide updates.