PHOENIX — A Phoenix judge ruled Thursday that former NFL star Darren Sharper is not entitled to bail in Arizona, finding "proof evident and presumption great" that he raped a woman in Tempe on Nov. 21.
In making his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville cited DNA evidence from inside the woman's vagina that partially matched Sharper's. Sharper did not previously know the woman, identified in court as "Victim B," according to testimony from Tempe police Det. Kevin Mace. Another woman in the apartment that night, identified as "Victim C," said she witnessed Sharper naked and making thrusting movements over Victim B, who has no recollection of what happened in the hours after consuming a drink Sharper made her that night, Mace said.
The judge said Sharper should be entitled to $1,000 bond on the other four charges he faces in Arizona, including the drugging and rape of another woman, identified as "Victim A," and the drugging of Victim C.
But Granville's ruling regarding Victim B is likely to be enough to keep Sharper incarcerated indefinitely in Los Angeles, where he is charged with two more rapes.
At issue in Granville's court was whether Sharper was entitled to post bond in the Tempe case and potentially be released from jail. Because his charges in Arizona were deemed non-bondable, Los Angeles Judge Renee Korn previously said she would not release Sharper, who has been locked up since Feb. 27.
If Granville had ruled Sharper was entitled to bond on all charges, Korn might have released him as soon as Friday. Korn will consider the issue again in a hearing scheduled for Friday morning in Los Angeles.
To keep him in jail on sexual assault charges without bail, Arizona prosecutors needed to show "proof evident and presumption great" that Sharper was guilty, according the state constitution. Granville said the burden was met with Victim B.
An expert witness on genetics and testing, Dr. Ruth Ballard, testified for the defense and noted that the reports showed that none of Sharper's sperm was found on any individual. She said the type of DNA found could have come from skin, saliva or other sources.
To rebut the point about the lack of sperm found on the alleged victims, prosecutor Yigael Cohen elicited testimony from Mace that said Sharper had a vasectomy. After Sharper's attorney, Skip Donau, objected, Mace said he learned of the vasectomy from Los Angeles police and Victim A, who had a prior consensual sex relationship with Sharper.
"And you find the DNA is the most troubling aspect of the case, but our expert has indicated that the most likely source of the DNA is saliva or skin," Donau said. "There is no sperm. This latest testimony (on Sharper's vasectomy) I think should be given no weight based on the fact that it hasn't been confirmed in any fashion."
Donau said there were "several reasonable explanations" for the presence of Sharper's DNA with Victim B. He said he picked her up to move her on the couch, slept on the same couch and could have drooled. He noted Victim B was fully clothed with boots on when she woke up.
Cohen then rebutted this by questioning how Sharper's DNA could have been found inside of Victim B. The internal vaginal DNA was found to be a match to Sharper on 12 of 16 loci, with the other four loci being inconclusive.
Authorities suspect Sharper date raped nine women in five states since September, including the two in Arizona and two in Los Angeles. Those are the only two states to formally charge him to date while investigations remain open in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Miami Beach, Fla.
He has pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles and Donau said Sharper denies the other allegations, which investigators say follow a pattern in which Sharper allegedly gave the women drinks laced with a sleep drug and then assaulted them while they slept.
Granville heard testimony over two days. On Wednesday, Tempe police Det. Kevin Mace testified for about an hour under questioning from Cohen and Donau. Mace testified that DNA found on Victim B's leggings matched Sharper's DNA. He also said that the woman was knocked out right after consuming a drink given to her by Sharper in the apartment. Tests later showed the presence of the sleep drug zolpidem on the cups used that night, for which Sharper has a prescription, Mace said.
Cohen asked what was found on the leggings. Mace proceeded to read from a report that said "prostate specific antigen (PSA) constitute of semen" was detected on the leggings.
"So the DNA was in the form of semen?" Cohen asked.
"Yes," Mace replied.
Sharper's attorneys cross-examined Mace on this point on Thursday and asked him if that statement was incorrect. Mace clarified his comments Thursday by saying the DNA was in the form of PSA, which is a constituent of semen and is produced in the prostate but also can be found in other sources such as blood.
Mace also testified that the other alleged rape victim in the Arizona case, Victim A, had no DNA that was found in or on her that matched Sharper's. Instead, sperm from another man was found, a man the woman said she had consensual sex with three days earlier.
Mace said the woman still believed she had non-consensual sex the night she was out with Sharper even though she couldn't remember what happened after becoming highly intoxicated. Victim A tested negative for zolpidem, but positive for amphetamine and THC (marijuana), Mace said.
Victim A woke up naked from the waist down with her legs hanging over the edge of the bed and door locked even though her friend and roommate put her to bed with clothes on hours earlier, Mace said.
"There simply is no evidence" with Victim A, Donau said in court. "I'm shocked that it got past the grand jury. The fact that her pants were off and that she felt she had sex without any kind of forensic, any kind of exam that confirms that. Given the fact every time she saw him they had voluntary sex, what would be the motive (for raping her)?"
The third victim, Victim C, is a roommate of Victim A and was not raped but suspects she was drugged after taking a drink given to her and Victim B that night by Sharper, according to police reports. She said that when she went to the bathroom from her room, she witnessed Sharper naked and making thrusting movements over Victim B on the couch, Mace said.
The woman said Sharper then knocked on her door to try to explain what she had seen. According to Mace's testimony and police reports, Sharper told Victim C that he and Victim A don't have a relationship but that he and Victim B "have something going on" and were going to tell Victim A about it in the morning.
Mace said tests were still being analyzed at a lab. Zolpidem, also known as Ambien, is a prescription sleep aid that exits the body quickly. For that reason, it is known to evade detection in testing, though results vary depending on the dosage and metabolism of the person.
Preliminary reports found no presence of such drugs, according to court records filed by the defense.
Sharper was first arrested on Jan. 17 in Los Angeles and posted $200,000 bond. That bond was later increased to $1 million after allegations became known in other states.
He then turned himself in on Feb. 27 after authorities in New Orleans issued a warrant for his arrest. On March 7, Korn indicated she would release him on bail unless formal charges were filed against him in New Orleans. Authorities in New Orleans have not filed charges, but a grand jury indicted him in Arizona on March 11, leading to Sharper's indefinite incarceration.