Sex assault trial goes over DNA evidence

Kenneth Parent, at left, and Brent Clement, right, in Dickinson County Circuit Court on Thursday. The two men are on trial for criminal sexual conduct-first degree and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation. (Nikki Younk/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Forensic evidence presented Thursday in the trial for two Kingsford men accused of beating and sexually assaulting a woman last summer showed only one of the men’s DNA was found on her.

Michigan State Police Crime Lab scientists found a high likelihood 33-year-old Brent Thomas Clement’s DNA matched evidence collected in the woman’s sexual assault examination. But they found no DNA from 45-year-old Kenneth Robert Parent anywhere on the woman.

Dickinson County Circuit Court Judge Mary Barglind also ruled Thursday the MSP trooper who photographed the woman’s injuries about a week after the incident wouldn’t be able to testify that he believed some of the injuries were bite marks.

However, jurors still will be able to view the photos and make their own determinations as to what they depict, the judge said.

This came about after defense attorneys Gregory Seibold and Michael Scholke questioned Trooper Chad Strutz’s qualifications to identify bite marks and determine the age of bruises. Strutz admitted he had no medical training and was only relying on his years of law enforcement experience to identify the injuries as bite marks.

A doctor who treated the woman at Upper Peninsula Health Systems-Marquette the day after she was found testified he didn’t remember noticing any bite marks on her.

Clement and Parent each face criminal sexual conduct-first degree, a felony punishable by life or any term of years in prison, and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation, a 10-year felony.

Clement’s habitual offender-fourth status increases the maximum penalty to life on both charges, while Parent’s habitual offender-second status increases each maximum penalty by 1.5 times.

Prosecutors claim Clement and Parent dragged the woman into a wooded area near their home June 11 to beat and rape her after she argued with then-boyfriend Clement over his suspicions she was using methamphetamine.

However, defense attorneys contend the woman’s injuries could have been caused by stumbling down the street and the wooded hill while in a drug-induced state, and Clement’s DNA on the woman can be explained by their consensual sex the previous day.

Forensic scientists also examined the woman’s clothing for possible semen, blood and saliva and only found areas on her shirt and jeans that tested inconclusive for saliva. Rainy weather on the night she was found, condom usage and showering could have affected any potential DNA samples, they testified in response to prosecutors’ questions.

Dickinson County Prosecutor Lisa Richards and Dickinson County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Kass were scheduled to continue their case this morning. The defense then may present witnesses before closing arguments and jury deliberation.