Trial ordered in beating of Orfordville woman

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Ted Sullivan
Saturday, August 29, 2009
— The man accused of nearly beating an Orfordville woman to death in May was bound over for trial Friday, despite his attorney twice asking for the case to be dismissed.

Dustin L. Sperb, 21, of 440 N. Parker Drive, Janesville, appeared in Rock County Court for a preliminary hearing on felony charges of first-degree sexual assault and aggravated battery.

He is suspected of beating Sandra L. Cole, 47, of 3119 S. Old Highway 11, No. 35, Orfordville, on May 10 in her home in Country Courts Trailer Home Park.

His defense attorney, Tod Daniel, objected to an exhibit detailing a state crime lab report, claiming the state failed to prove a proper chain of custody with its evidence. When his objection was denied, Daniel moved for a dismissal.

Daniel also asked for the case to be dismissed after hearing testimony, claiming the state didn’t have enough evidence to support the charges. His request was again denied.

According to the criminal complaint:

Sperb was drinking alcohol at a bonfire in the trailer park on the night of the attack, and witnesses say he was wearing a Yankees baseball cap.

Witnesses told investigators Sperb left the fire and was gone for a few hours. Sperb told detectives he walked away from the fire and passed out.

Cole’s blood was found on the T-shirt that Sperb wore that night. He also is likely the contributor to a DNA mixture found on Cole’s body.

A New York Yankees baseball cap also was found in Cole’s home.

A deputy was conducting a burglary investigation at a neighbor’s home the day after the attack when Cole’s son, William Wagner, found her.

“At first I didn’t recognize her. She was so swollen,” Wagner testified Friday. “There was blood everywhere.”

Cole was unconscious and partially nude, he said.

She was evaluated at Mercy Hospital in Janesville, testified Jackie Friar, coordinator of Mercy’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program.

A nurse found signs of sexual assault, she said.

Detective Brian Meister testified he questioned Sperb the day after the attack and saw that Sperb’s knuckles were red and swollen.

Sperb claimed his knuckles were that way because of automotive work, Meister said.

When Sperb was arrested in June, he changed his story, claiming his knuckles were red and swollen from hitting a speed bag, Meister said.

When confronted with the DNA evidence, Sperb claimed he didn’t know how his DNA got on Cole, Meister said.

Sperb also asked if it would be better to say he had consensual sex with Cole but then claimed he didn’t remember what happened, Meister said.

Cole remained in a coma in Mercy Hospital in Janesville for weeks, officials said, and she was later moved to Milwaukee for special treatment.

Cole is no longer on life support and is recovering in a rehabilitation center, Wagner said. She understands people and can answer questions with one word.

Sperb remains in jail on $40,000 cash bond. He is expected to enter a plea to the charges Sept. 2.

Last updated: 11:03 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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