Portsmouth man claims DNA could tie another man to kidnap case
BRENTWOOD - A Portsmouth man on trial for attempted kidnapping argued Wednesday that his jacket may have been found in the woods nearby where a woman was accosted at gunpoint, but someone else could have been wearing it at the time.
Portsmouth police found the down-filled jacket belonging to James Perry, 37, behind an Ocean State Job Lot store in Portsmouth on Dec. 14, according to prosecutors.
The predominant DNA sample taken from the coat belonged to Perry, a lesser one was tied to another unidentified person - a fact that defense lawyers say is enough to acquit their client.
"They can't tell you if he wore it that day, or a year before that day," defense lawyer Brett Newkirk said during opening arguments. "They can't tell you if someone else wore that jacket that day, or a year before that day."
Another man found near the wooded area with wet pants was also questioned by police but not pursued as a suspect, Newkirk said.
Perry, 37, is accused of approaching the woman as she exited her SUV and ordering her to get back in the vehicle while brandishing a handgun. Perry was living in the Gosling Meadows apartment complex located behind the store at the time of the attempted abduction, Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway said.
Police canvassed the area and interviewed several witnesses, but made no arrest that day.
A composite sketch and a photo-lineup in the days that followed also did not turn up a suspect, according to defense lawyers.
But repeated questioning by Perry's girlfriend, who lived with him at the time, led Perry to admit that he was involved in the attempted kidnapping, Conway said.
The victim, Katherine Booth, 55, fought back tears as she recounted how a man wearing a puffy, dark colored jacket quickly approached her and got unusually close.
"He whispers to me, 'Ma'am, please get back into your car," Booth testified on Wednesday. "I am not going to hurt you.' I say no. He says 'Please get back into your car and he shows me a gun. He shows me a gun and moves the slide twice." Booth was able to get away after refusing to get in her vehicle, prompting her assailant to run away.
Newkirk suggested that Booth's inability to conclusively identify Perry at the outset was among the many instances where police lacked direct evidence to tie his client to the crime.
"You are going to come to one inescapable conclusion when you hear what she says - it ain't him," Newkirk said pointing at his client.
Conway told jurors that Perry's girlfriend at the time, at first reluctant to speak with police, provided another important detail about her boyfriend's coat that matched what police found.
"She describes the same jacket as everybody else describes (and) that there's a tear on the back of the jacket," Conway said. "The one police found had a tear on the back of the jacket."
Testimony in the case is expected to resume today.
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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com.