ELKO — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether a Carlin man convicted in 1994 for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl should be granted a new trial because of questions involving DNA evidence and how it was presented.
A federal district court judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco earlier ruled that Troy Don Brown is entitled to a new trial.
The Nevada attorney general’s office appealed the 9th Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month agreed to consider the case, the Elko Daily Free Press reported Thursday.
David Lockie, the attorney who represented Brown at his trial in Elko, recalled it was among the first cases in the county to rely on DNA evidence.
Since then, DNA testing has evolved and is more widely accepted in the court system, he said.
“There was considerable doubt, in my opinion, as to whether Troy Don Brown perpetrated the crime or not,” Lockie said. “He always adamantly denied he had anything to do with the crime.”
Brown was convicted of sexually assaulting the young girl while she was in bed in her family’s trailer home.
She was home alone with her 4-year-old sister while her stepfather was working at a mine and her mother was at a local bar, according to court records.
After she was raped, the girl called her mother, who came home to find her covered in blood from the waist down, court documents said. The girl said the man who assaulted her was strangling her and she pretended to be dead until he left.
Brown was at times in the company of the victim’s mother that night and had a drink with her, according to testimony.
The woman said Brown was clearly drunk but “behaved like a gentleman and made no sexual advances.”
He claimed he walked home drunk and vomited several times before arriving at his residence, 10 trailers away from the victim.
Brown’s brother, Travis, said he was asleep on the couch when his brother came home around 1:30 a.m. He did not see any traces of blood.
Based on sperm found at the crime scene, forensic experts said there was 99.9 percent chance that Brown was the assailant.
Brown initially was convicted of two counts of child sexual assault and one count of child abuse. The Nevada Supreme Court later vacated the child abuse conviction, and Brown was resentenced to life in prison.
He then challenged the sexual assault charges in U.S. District Court, which granted a retrial citing a report from a University of California, Irvine professor that cast doubt on the DNA evidence and the way it was presented in Brown’s trial.
The 9th Circuit affirmed that ruling after the attorney general’s office appealed.