Evidence handling focus of Asheville rape trial

The Citizen Times, citizen-times.com
BYLINE: Clarke Morrison

Asheville, NC


Andrew Davis listens while seated beside public defender, LeAnn Melton, during his trial in Buncombe County Superior Court Wednesday. Davis is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. (John Fletcher 6-5-13) / John Fletcher/

ASHEVILLE — A judge denied a request Wednesday by a defense attorney in a rape trial to question witnesses about an audit of the Police Department’s property room conducted after problems with the handling of evidence were uncovered.

Public defender LeAnn Melton maintained that Assistant District Attorney Megan Apple had opened the door to raising the issue of the audit through her questioning of a police detective about evidence in the case against Andrew Grady Davis.

But Judge Philip Ginn ruled against the request without elaborating on his decision.

Testimony on the second day of the trial in Buncombe County Superior Court focused on the handling of DNA evidence crucial to the state’s case against Davis, who is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Authorities say the 2001 rape and assault went unsolved until DNA left behind by the assailant was matched to Davis when he was arrested in Oklahoma on unrelated charges eight years later.

The victim, a former UNC Asheville student, testified Tuesday that a man entered her North Asheville apartment in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2001, shoved her down on the couch and raped her at knifepoint. She said she never got a good look at her attacker’s face.

Asheville police Detective Diana Loveland underwent extensive questioning Wednesday about procedures used to track and prevent tampering with evidence stored in the Police Department’s property room and sent to the State Bureau of Investigation’s lab for testing.

Loveland said sexual assault examination kits are sealed and stored in a way that prevents them from being tampered with.

“In preparation for this case, did you change or alter the evidence in any way?” the prosecutor asked Loveland.

“No,” the detective responded.

Melton maintained in her opening argument that when she went to the police property room to view evidence in the case, initially the rape kit couldn’t be found.





Andrew Davis listens to testimony in Buncombe County Superior Court Wednesday. Davis is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. (John Fletcher 6-5-13) / John Fletcher/






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