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Hospital Loses Rape Kit

This is a case being heard in the Criminal Term of the Queens County Supreme Court of the State of New York. The case involves the People of the State of New York against the defendant Andre D. Miller. Judge David Goldstein is overseeing the case.

The issue at hand is whether or not the loss of a rape kit, either by the police or a hospital, requires a sanction to be imposed.

Case Background

The defendant has been indicted for rape and sexual abuse in the first degree. It is alleged that the defendant forced the witness into his bedroom and forced her at gun point to have sex with him. He was arrested at his parole officer’s office on the fifth of November, 1991 on these charges.

On the date of the incident the witness went to Queens Hospital Center and a rape kit was prepared. On the second of January, 1992, the defendant made a motion for this physical evidence to be produced in the case. The People responded that a rape kit was prepared and would be presented. There were no preliminary hearings requested in the case.

The case went before the court on the 10th of February, 1992. Between this date and the 16th of April, 1992, the defense counsel made a number of different attempts to obtain a laboratory analysis as well as the rape kit. The People finally announced on the 16th of April, 1992, that the rape kit had been lost and furthermore the kit had never been provided to the police to be analyzed.

The defendant then made a motion to have the indictment dismissed. A hearing was held to determine whether it was the hospital that lost the kit or the police station. The hearing took place over 5 months. During this time several police officers testified as well as several members from the Queens Hospital Center staff.

It was shown that a rape kit was prepared by the Queens Hospital Center. The 112th police precinct was notified to pick up the rape kit on the 19th of October. Records show that the police failed to pick up the rape kit. The hospital discovered in a meeting at the hospital in February of 1992 that there were 10 rape kits held at the hospital that should have already been picked up. This included the one relevant to this particular case. A staff member was put in charge of contacting the appropriate police stations about these rape kits. The rape kit for this case can no longer be located.

Case Discussion and Determination

In this particular case the loss of the rape kit was unintentional. In addition, there was no additional testing done on the rape kit and any testimony involving the rape kit would be meaningless. The court feels that in this particular circumstance it would be permissible for the People to state that a rape kit was prepared, but not examined and was lost before an examination could take place. This limited sanction on the evidence of the rape kit seems fair for both sides under these unique circumstances. These sanctions will only be applicable if the rape kit is relevant to any issues brought up at trial.

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