Friday, April 16, 2010

DNA evidence exonerates sexual assault suspect, second man arrested

No good deed goes unpunished. I guess that's as good an explanation as any for a man wrongly accused and arrested for a sexual assault. Anyone want to bet, that if Mr. Seggie sees something like this again, he just ignores it?

Good Samaritan arrested and charged with sexual assault. Freed after DNA proves it wasn't him.

STERLING HEIGHTS — A different man has been arrested and charged for a July 2009 sexual assault after DNA evidence recovered at the scene failed to match the original defendant.

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski dismissed three counts of criminal sexual conduct and one count of unlawful imprisonment against Ricky Seggie, 25, at the request of the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office March 17.

The same day, prosecutors brought identical charges against Christian Phillip Margosian, 22, who was arraigned before Magistrate Michael Piatek in 41-A District Court.

Margosian must wear a GPS tether if he posts bond, set at $50,000.

“They had the wrong guy,” said Seggie’s attorney, Jerome Sabbota. “The bottom line is, the kid never did it. Unfortunately, Ricky Seggie got caught up by trying to be a good guy.”

The assault in question allegedly occurred near Dodge Park and 16 1/2 Mile on July 17, 2009.

According to Sabbota, the victim, a staffer at a group home, was walking to the facility when a man attacked her. Hearing screams, Seggie, who lives three doors down, emerged to see the suspect back his red Blazer into a tree, then flee the scene, said Sabbota.

Seggie supplied the information to Sterling Heights police, but investigators, wary, arrested him after determining that his appearance was similar to the victim’s description of her attacker.

According to police, the victim picked Seggie out of a photographic lineup on July 29. He was arrested and charged the next day; after two days in jail, he posted bond and was released. His case was bound over to Circuit Court Oct. 1, after a preliminary exam in District Court.

“He was headed to trial,” said Sabbota.

Sabbota dubbed the entire process “questionable,” since discrepancies existed between the victim’s description and Seggie’s appearance, and because the assailant wore a hat and a mask concealing the lower portion of his face.

“All she could really see was this person’s eyes,” he said.

His client owns a red Bronco, not a Blazer, and the Bronco lacked rear damage consistent with a collision, added Sabbota.

Sabbota acknowledged that Seggie failed a lie detector test, further muddling the situation, though the attorney — noting that lie detector test results are not admissible in court — questioned the test’s validity, alleging the administrator distorted the result by asking too many questions.

Police reportedly collected hair samples from the suspect’s hat, abandoned at the scene, and submitted it to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for analysis in August. But the lab often has a backlog, and while results were pending, investigators became suspicious of Margosian, who matched the suspect description and was driving a similar vehicle when he was arrested Dec. 15 for aggravated indecent exposure under like circumstances.

Investigators obtained a search warrant to obtain DNA samples from Margosian and submitted them for comparison to the hair collected at the July assault scene. The results, released March 15, implicated Margosian, leading to the dismissal of charges against Seggie, according to police.

The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately return a call for comment, and a listed number for Seggie was not functioning March 19.

Citing the open case, Lt. Luke Riley of the Sterling Heights Police Department said he could not release details about the July assault nor the incident that prompted Margosian’s December arrest.

However, he noted that the CSC charges, which vary in degree, are each tied to specific actions that occurred during the attack. The most severe of them, first degree, is a felony punishable by up to life in prison, he said.

Along with the false imprisonment count, “these are four separate charges that are supported by what happened in this incident,” he said.

Margosian’s preliminary exam is scheduled for March 31 before Judge Kimberley Wiegand in 41-A District Court.

Sabbota said Seggie hasn’t determined his next course of action, if any, but he believes his client has little legal recourse.

It’s especially unfortunate, he said, because while most acquitted defendants get their fingerprints and photographs back, the court system retains those belonging to CSC suspects, innocent or not.

“As they say: No good deed goes unpunished,” he said.