Calgary's 'Beltline Rapist' seeks new trial

CALGARY - The lawyer for a man dubbed the Beltline Rapist argued Wednesday his conviction should be overturned because illegal trickery was used to obtain key evidence. [The accused]'s DNA was used to link him to the rapes of two young women in the inner-city neighbourhood more than five years ago. Undercover police obtained the DNA by setting up a fake chewing gum taste test at a gas station parking lot in April 2004. [The accused] took the test and was urged not to toss his gum on the ground, and instead, was offered a cup. Karen Molle told the Alberta Court of Appeal that her client was coerced into surrendering his DNA. "The central issue in this case is whether or not the gum was abandoned by the appellant," she said. The lawyer said that if the DNA from the gum is ruled inadmissible, then every other piece of evidence derived as a result of it should also be excluded from evidence. Molle conceded that had her client tossed his gum on the ground, it would have been abandoned. [The accused], 43, was declared a dangerous offender in November 2007 and is serving an indeterminate prison sentence. He was convicted by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sandy Park in 2006 of eight charges. The charges stemmed from the attacks on a 19-year-old woman on Sept. 12, 2003, and a 17-year-old schoolgirl on March 26, 2004. Park called the attacks "vicious" and "cruel." On Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Jolaine Antonio told appellate justices Marina Paperny, Keith Ritter and Patricia Rowbotham that [The accused] had abandoned the pieces of gum, and in doing so, lost any expectation of privacy. Thus, she said, the trial judge was correct in his verdict and his ruling should stand. "[The accused]s rights were not violated and, even if they were, it was minimal intrusion," she said. "It is a legal technique, when you consider the seriousness of the offence and police need to take action for the safety of young women in the Beltline area." Antonio said even though police could have obtained a warrant to get [The accused]'s DNA, there was a sense of urgency as they had information he was planning to soon leave Alberta. One of the victims' parents attended the hearing, but they have always declined to comment. During the original trial, the older victim testified she was attacked after she left her door unlocked with the man standing outside as she went to get notepaper to write down her address for him. She said he grabbed her by the throat and began choking her with his hands and threatening to kill her. She said the man tied her hands behind her back, gagged her, covered her head with the blanket, bound her feet and raped her for about 10 minutes. He left her tied up on her bed for about a half-hour, then returned and repeated the attack. The younger victim told court she had just returned home from school about 1:40 p.m. when a man followed her into her townhouse complex on a ruse that he was visiting her next-door neighbour. The next thing she remembered was waking up on her bed with no clothes, a blanket pulled over her head and the stranger beginning to rape her. She said she had a bruised lip and gums, loose front tooth and partially dislocated shoulder. [The accused], who moved to Canada from Algeria in 1997, had seven prior convictions since 1999, including two assaults causing bodily harm and one assault on a Calgary Remand Centre guard in March 2005. He has always fought the legality of the DNA evidence.