Two DNA experts provided key testimony in the trial of Samuel Lee Lowry, a Pennsylvania man on trial for the rape of an unconscious person.
In November 2014, a 26-year-old woman awoke in her apartment to find a naked man on top on her. The victim says that when she realized the person in her bed was not her boyfriend, she screamed and told him to get off of her and get out. She then grabbed her shotgun and pointed it at him.
The victim testified that the man turned on the light and got dressed and was looking for his shoes. When the man turned on the light, the victim recognized him by his nickname, “Duke,” from seeing him in her neighborhood. The victim said that months before, the man had knocked on her door and asked to sleep on her couch when it was raining and she had allowed him.
Lowry, 36, is accused of entering a woman’s apartment when she was sleeping, removing his clothing, climbing into her bed and attempting to have sex with her. Lowry was charged with burglary, rape of an unconscious person, sexual assault, indecent assault of an unconscious person, criminal trespass, and aggravated indecent assault.
At trial, Lowry chose not to take the stand in his own defense. Instead, two DNA experts provided key testimony at trial.
The prosecution retained Julia Garofalo as an expert. Garofalo is a forensic scientist and DNA expert who works at a state police crime lab in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Garofalo analyzed the victim’s rape kit results for DNA. She testified that Lowry’s DNA was present on some of the samples taken from the woman’s neck and other areas. Garofalo testified that the crime lab received buccal swabs, which are samples from inside the cheeks of the woman, her boyfriend, and Lowry. Lowry’s DNA was most prevalent on the woman’s neck, which matched her story that she had awoken to Lowry on top of her, licking her neck.
The defense hired Dr. James Girard, a professor of chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C. Defense counsel called Dr. Girard via Skype to explain an analysis of Garofalo’s report.
A jury of seven men and five women convicted Lowry on the charges of rape of an unconscious person, sexual assault and indecent assault of an unconscious person. The jury acquitted Lowry of the burglary charge.
Lowry’s sentencing hearing will be held at a later date. Sentencing guidelines call for Lowry to serve 8.5 to 20 years in prison. Lowry has two other felony cases pending against him in other courts. His other cases involve aggravated assault of a police officer and escape and a burglary and car theft.
Assistant district attorney Jonathan Miller said, “The district attorney’s office and the commonwealth are pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case … (they) returned a verdict that gave justice to the female adult victim for the crimes perpetrated against her.”