Defense to begin presenting case in Pelo trial
Detectives in the Bloomington Police Department knew a sexual assault victim’s license plate had been searched in a police database under Jeff Pelo’s computer login more than three years before his arrest.
That revelation and testimony from a Bloomington urologist that Pelo is not circumcised — a contradiction of testimony from one of the rape victims — highlighted the concluding testimony of the state’s case Tuesday, two years to the day since Pelo’s arrest. At the time, he was a Bloomington police sergeant.
Pelo is charged with more than three-dozen felonies related to four rapes from between 2002 and 2005 and the stalking of a fifth woman in 2006.
The defense will begin presenting its case today. Defense attorney Michael Rosenblat has told McLean County Associate Judge Robert Freitag his witnesses could take only a couple of days, meaning the jury likely will begin deliberations next week.
Clay Wheeler, one of the lead investigators in the case, said Tuesday the license plate numbers of the April 2003 sexual assault were searched in February 2003 when she had not had any contact with police.
“At the time, I was trying to figure out if there was a way that (a suspect other than Pelo) could have been running a plate or getting the information from a dispatcher,” Wheeler said.
When he found Pelo’s login was used to access the information, he questioned him. Pelo denied performing the inquiry and told Wheeler in May 2003 he had logged on to computers for other officers who had trouble accessing the database.
Pelo was not considered a suspect after the incident, and Wheeler did not indicate Tuesday that he found Pelo’s explanation questionable at the time.
Previous testimony has shown that computers where Pelo was logged on had searched police databases for information on women he is accused of stalking and assaulting several times beginning in June 2002. The last computer run associated with a victim and Pelo happened April 19, 2003, weeks before Wheeler’s conversation with Pelo.
Cross-examined by Rosenblat, Wheeler said investigators and analysts never compared DNA samples or fingerprints recovered from crime scenes related to the case, even though tests of the items excluded Pelo, the victims and other suspects as donors of the materials.
Susan Cropp, an FBI analyst who specializes in DNA, testified Tuesday that DNA tests on hairs recovered from several of the assault scenes excluded all the known samples she was sent for comparison, leaving the biological materials unassigned to any person known or suspected to have been at the scenes.
Wheeler said those unknown DNA profiles and other unknown samples from the scenes and victims were not compared to see if they came from different or identical sources.
Dr. Sam Grampsas testified Tuesday about his examination of Pelo on Monday. Prosecutors sought the urologist’s exam after Pelo’s wife revealed last week that her husband was not circumcised, contradicting testimony from the victim of the late January 2005 attack.
Grampsas confirmed the claims of Pelo’s wife and gave a brief presentation on the characteristics of foreskin and its visibility during various stages of sexual arousal. Three of the four victims, including the woman from the late January 2005 attack, testified their attacker could not become erect during the assaults.
Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.