DNA evidence a focus in rape trial
Testimony began Tuesday in Dukes County Superior Court before Judge C. Brian McDonald in the trial of Richard Skrzypczyk, charged with the June 2004 rape of a wedding guest. The case is unusual for Superior Court here, in that the prosecution will rely in part on DNA evidence.
Mr. Skrzypczyk, a 59-year-old Vineyard Haven resident, is charged with raping a visitor from Maine, then 23 years old, in an Edgartown home.
In her opening statement, prosecutor Laura Marshard, assistant district attorney for the Cape and Islands, told the court that Eric Gaudette of Edgartown hired the alleged victim, a friend, to photograph his wedding, held at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall on June 12, 2004. She and her friend Pamela Hale, who was the justice of the peace who presided at the wedding, stayed in Mr. Gaudette's home during their stay on the Vineyard.
Ms. Marshard said the alleged victim did not have much to eat that night but drank far too much and fell asleep extremely intoxicated on a couch.
Ms. Marshard said Mr. Skrzypczyk was not formally invited to the reception following the ceremony, but was told by Mr. Gaudette to stop by for a drink.
The prosecutor said that Mr. Skrzypczyk had a brief sexual encounter with another wedding guest in the house. Later, he saw the alleged victim on the couch and raped her. When she awakened the next morning, she saw that her pajama pants and underpants were folded on the floor next to her, and she had semen on her body.
She went to the Martha's Vineyard Regional Hospital later that afternoon for an examination. A test of the semen found on her genital area matched Mr. Skrzypczyk's DNA, Ms. Marshard said.
Mr. Skrzypczyk's lawyer, Thomas Mello, painted a very different picture of the events of that night. The defense attorney asked the jury to look at the entire picture when deciding the case.
He said that Mr. Skrzypczyk brought the alleged victim and Ms. Hale back to the Gaudette home from various after-wedding parties. A female guest he met earlier at the reception came downstairs and performed oral sex on him. Mr. Mello said Mr. Skrzypczyk then went to sleep but left the house a few hours later to give the guest a ride to the ferry.
Mr. Mello said that, according to the evidence, the hospital examination of the victim's body found semen only on the outside of her body, and the physical evidence was not consistent with rape. Mr. Mello told jurors that while they might be disturbed by the description of the circumstances, they must look at all the facts and evidence.
The victim, who has since married and uses a married name, testified that while she was at the wedding, she saw Mr. Skrzypczyk, whom she had met three times before when he and Mr. Gaudette visited a mutual friend of hers and Mr. Gaudette's in Maine. After leaving the wedding and going to two after parties, the victim said she asked Mr. Skrzypczyk to take her and Ms. Hale back to the Gaudette home.
"I wanted to go home and sleep it off," she testified. Once in the car, Mr. Skrzypcyzyk suggested they all go to David Ryan's, an Edgartown bar, to have another drink.
The victim told the jury that when she returned to the Gaudette house she put on pajamas and retired to the couch around 1 am. During the night, she woke up to find a man on top of her raping her, she said.
Fighting back tears, the woman said about that morning, "I woke up and thought it was a bad nightmare." When she saw her pajama pants and underpants were off, she said she realized it was not a nightmare but real.
After talking to the Gaudettes and Ms. Hale at brunch that afternoon, she decided to go to the hospital, she said. Testimony concludes today. A rape conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.