ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix nurse in Hacienda rape case wants DNA evidence tossed out

Feb 26, 2021, 1:00 PM
(AP Pool Photo)...

PHOENIX (AP) — A nurse charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a long-term care facility in Phoenix is asking a judge to throw out DNA evidence that authorities say ties him to the rape.

An attorney for Nathan Sutherland said in a court filing this week that the evidence should be tossed because Phoenix police officers didn’t get a warrant or have probable cause to take his client’s DNA and instead relied on a court order with a lesser standard of proof to gather the evidence.

Sutherland’s lawyer, Edwin Molina, said investigators made a misrepresentation when saying in a request for the court order that 36 male Hacienda HealthCare employees whose DNA was being sought had direct access to the victim. Molina argued police were unaware of the job duties of the 36 men or whether they had contact with the victim and said that investigators worked under the theory that “anybody and everybody could be a suspect.”

The Phoenix Police Department and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Sutherland, declined to comment on Sutherland’s request.

The pregnancy was discovered in December 2018 when an employee at the long-term care facility was changing the garments of the then-29-year-old victim and noticed she was in the process of delivering a child. Employees told police that they had no idea the woman was pregnant.

She lived at Hacienda for 26 years, until the child’s birth. Her medical conditions stem from a brain disorder that caused motor and cognitive impairments and vision loss. She was also left with no functional use of her limbs.

Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He was fired by Hacienda after his arrest and has since given up his nursing license.

Police have said Sutherland’s DNA matched a sample taken from the woman’s son. The victim’s mother is the boy’s guardian.

The surprise birth triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and prompted the resignations of Hacienda’s chief executive and one of the victim’s doctors.

It led to a lawsuit from the victim’s parents that alleged Sutherland had cared for their daughter on hundreds of occasions from 2012 through 2018, despite promises from the state — which contracts with companies like Hacienda to provide services to people with developmental disabilities — that only women would tend to her.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Casa Grande Police Department via AP)...
KTAR.com

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
20 hours ago
Bryan Patrick Miller (Photo provided by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
Associated Press

Bench trial for man accused of killing 2 women in Phoenix to begin Monday

A bench trial is scheduled to begin Monday for a man accused of sexually attacking and fatally stabbing two young women in separate killings.
20 hours ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
KTAR.com

2 men dead after shooting breaks out at party in Gila Bend

Two men ages 25 and 26 are dead after a shooting broke out at a party in Gila Bend Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
20 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Public Safety Photo)...
KTAR.com

Silver Alert issued for 77-year-old man last seen in Queen Creek

A Silver Alert was issued Sunday for a 77-year-old man last seen near Queen Creek Road and South Meridian Road.
20 hours ago
(Petrified Forest National Park Photo)...
Alex Weiner

Triassic reptile discovered at Arizona’s Petrified Forest named after former park superintendent

A Triassic reptile species discovered at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona was named after former park Superintendent and wife.
20 hours ago
(City of Phoenix Photo)...
Kevin Stone

New trash pickup days start this week for most of Phoenix

New pickup days go into effect Monday for 80% of the Phoenix's trash, garbage and green organic pickup customers.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Phoenix nurse in Hacienda rape case wants DNA evidence tossed out