A trial began Monday for a man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly Janesville woman almost 18 years ago.
The case against Kelly L. Baxter, 54, of 106 Cherry St., Janesville, relies heavily on DNA analysis of bloodstains on a bed sheet, Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan indicated in his opening statement to the jury.
The woman was 78 at the time of the April 1, 2000, incident. She died in 2011.
Baxter was not charged until February 2017, after the state Crime Lab matched DNA from the bed sheet blood to Baxter.
Baxter had been required to give the sample in 2016 after he was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault that occurred in 2014, according to the criminal complaint.
That information went to Janesville police, who talked to Baxter and found he lived five houses away from the woman at the time of the assault, Sullivan said.
Baxter denied knowing the woman or ever being in her house, Sullivan said.
The woman was a widow. At the time of the assault, she was in her bed in the house she had lived in for decades, Sullivan said.
“She lived alone. She loved her neighborhood. She loved to have the window open so the sun would come in when she would wake up in the morning. And she was in her bed at 5 a.m. And she was awakened to what she thought was the sound of somebody down below, entering her home, and then soon thereafter somebody was coming into her room,” Sullivan said.
The man wore a dark, hooded sweatshirt with a T-shirt pulled over his nose, she told police at the time, according to the criminal complaint.
“We’ll hear testimony that she heard somebody attempting to use broken English, say things such as, ‘You know you’ve been alone for a long time. You know you want it,’ and then while she was in her bed, she was sexually assaulted,” Sullivan said.
She didn’t have her glasses on, and she thought he had the accent of a Spanish speaker, he said.
She fought back and was injured in the process, Sullivan said.
After the intruder left, she tried to call her daughter but could not because he had cut her phone line. She changed clothes and went across the street to call from a neighbor’s house, and police arrived around 7 a.m., Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he intends to call three witnesses who heard the woman’s story soon after the assault: a doctor who examined her, a nurse who conducted a sexual-assault examination and a police officer.
Defense attorney Philip Brehm said in his opening statement that the woman’s description of her assailant does not match Baxter, and although she said she scratched him, his DNA was not found under her fingernails or elsewhere on her body.
“There’s not going to be any evidence that she ever identified my client as her assailant,” Brehm said. “Her description of her assailant to medical personnel is not consistent with my client’s description, and I’m going to ask that you listen very closely to that evidence.”
“There may be evidence that my client’s DNA was found at her residence. I ask that you listen closely to that evidence. I ask that you consider all the other evidence in the case, and I think when you listen to all the evidence, you will see that the state’s case is not as compelling as they are presenting it to you.”
The lawyers were expected to wrap up their cases today, when the jury would begin deliberations.