Witnesses: No surprise Griego's fingerprints, DNA weren't found

2014-04-10T21:00:00Z 2014-04-11T12:27:04Z Witnesses: No surprise Griego's fingerprints, DNA weren't foundBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Jurors in the trial of suspected serial rapist Toby Eugene Griego heard a wide range of testimony Thursday, including that it should come as no surprise investigators didn't find fingerprints or DNA evidence linking him to any of the crimes he is charged with committing.

Griego, 42, faces 27 charges stemming from home-invasion robberies, sexual assaults, kidnappings and an attempted sexual assault. Prosecutors allege he attacked four women on Jan. 27, April 25, May 27 and July 2 of 2013.

The women attacked on those days testified Tuesday and Wednesday that they appear in deleted images Billings Police Detective Jim Woog extracted from a cellphone prosecutors say belonged to Greigo.

Jurors heard from 11 witnesses Thursday, the most in a single day of testimony thus far in the trial.

In addition to the testimony about DNA, they heard about Griego’s work, as well as his cellphone and financial records. They also saw a comparison of crime scene shoe prints to the soles of a pair of shoes prosecutors say belonged to Greigo and surveillance footage prosecutors say shows two victims making transactions at ATMs.

No DNA evidence, fingerprints found

Griego’s attorneys, state public defenders David Duke and J. Thomas Bartleson, brought up several times Thursday while cross-examining witnesses that investigators never found DNA evidence or fingerprints connecting their client to any of the crimes he is charged with committing.

Billings police Detectives Blake Richardson and Brett Kruger testified about a number of other things Thursday, but they both said they wouldn’t expect to find DNA evidence or fingerprints in this case because the victims reported their attacker wore gloves, raped them with foreign objects and forced them to bathe.

While Richardson was on the witness stand, Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza showed two still images he has said were taken from a video on Griego’s phone.

The first image appeared to show a gloved hand touching one of the victims in the case. The next photo, according to prosecutors, shows Griego’s face. Later in the day, one of Griego’s ex-girlfriends testified that the same image showed Griego.

Anna Ammons, a nurse who performed a sexual assault examination of the woman attacked on July 2, 2013, testified that to the best of her knowledge no DNA evidence was found as a result her exam.

Two other nurses who did sexual assault examinations of the other rape victims in the case have given similar testimony and gone on to say they wouldn’t expect to find an attacker’s DNA if the victims were raped only with foreign objects.

Richardson ended his testimony Thursday by stating he has never before seen an attacker go to such great lengths to avoid leaving evidence behind.

Shoe prints found at crime scene

Detective Richardson and Todd McCrohan, a forensic scientist and certified shoe examiner with the state crime lab, testified Thursday about shoe prints found at the scene of the May 27 attack and shoes prosecutors say belonged to Griego.

Richardson testified about processing that crime scene, where he photographed shoe prints and made two shoe print castings that were sent to the state crime lab.

McCrohan testified that he analyzed the castings and the photographs of the shoe prints and compared them with the shoes prosecutors say belonged to Griego.

McCrohan said the prints and castings matched the soles of the shoes he examined, a pair of black skate shoes.

During cross-examination by Duke, McCrohan confirmed the prints could have been made by any other pair of identical skate shoes.

Bank surveillance footage

On Wednesday, the women assaulted on May 27 and July 2 of 2013 testified that in addition to being raped, they were forced to withdraw or try to withdraw cash from ATMs at banks in Billings.

On Thursday, Justin Svec of First Interstate Bank and Anna Schladweiler of Western Security Bank testified about surveillance footage shown to jurors.

Souza and Chief Deputy Yellowstone County attorney Juli M. Pierce had Svec and Schladweiler confirm the time-stamped surveillance was from the early morning hours of May 27 and July 2 and appears to show the two women.

Surveillance of Griego

Detective Kruger testified about processing the crime scene where the fourth victim was attacked on July 2. He also spoke about conducting surveillance of Griego after the man became a suspect in the case last summer.

According to prosecutors, Griego became a suspect after a Crimestoppers tip indicated there was a man who frequented Hobby Lobby and followed female customers there.

An assistant manager at the store, Michelle Little, testified Thursday that Griego visited Hobby Lobby a minimum of two to four times a month since she started working at the business seven years ago.

She said she saw him following younger women with blonde or light hair multiples times. Little said she collected surveillance footage of Greigo and turned it over to detectives on July 15, 2013.

Kruger said he was one of the officers who interviewed Griego that day, and that Griego had a Motorola Droid Razr.

Kruger testified that the Billings police detectives put Griego under surveillance and, after getting a court order, put a tracking device on the man’s car.

The detective said he observed Griego apparently watching young women at various places around town, including at Rose Park. 

Other witnesses

The state called several other witnesses Thursday, including Griego’s former boss at Mattress Land USA, the head of the credit union where Griego had accounts and a representative of Verizon Wireless from California.

Kenneth Taft, the warehouse manager at Mattress Land USA, testified business records indicate Griego delivered a mattress to the third victim’s roommate on May 8, 2013.

Earlier this week, defense counsel mentioned a pest exterminator who did some work at the same victim’s home in the weeks before she was attacked on May 27.

Darby Schiesser confirmed he exterminated a bedbug infestation at the residence, but said he had nothing to do with the attack on the third victim. He also said he was either working, out of town or sleeping at the times of the attacks on Jan. 27, April 25 and July 2.

Tom Boos, the president and CEO of Billings Federal Credit Union, testified about Griego’s outstanding loans, which totaled about $25,000 in July 2013, and multiple cash deposits Griego made, including a deposit of $120 on May 28, 2013.

Melissa Sandoval, a records custodian for Verizon Wireless from California, testified about phone calls made on what prosecutors say is Griego’s phone. She also confirmed that the used phone in question, a Motorola Droid Razr, had been wiped clean by Verizon before being shipped to Billings.

Sandoval also confirmed that a receipt investigators say was seized at Griego’s home matches Verizon’s records of a transaction for a used Motorola Droid Razr.

Closing arguments set for Monday

At the end of testimony Thursday, presiding Judge Russell C. Fagg told the jury that prosecutors are expected to call their last two witnesses on Friday.

Duke said late Thursday afternoon it still hasn’t been determined if Griego will testify, and that no other witnesses are expected to testify for the defense.

Judge Fagg also told the jurors closing statements will begin Monday morning and that they can expect to go into deliberation mid-morning.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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