DNA evidence stops molestation trial

New DNA evidence has stalled a trial set to begin Monday against a man accused of raping a 9-year-old girl then holding her mother captive at knifepoint when she confronted him.

"There is newly found forensic evidence which I think is very material," said District Attorney Noel Waters in asking for a delay on the day jury selection would have begun. "The information is sufficiently complex."

Darren John Sweetland, a 36-year-old telephone technician from Carson City, is charged with felony sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14, felony assault with a deadly weapon, gross misdemeanor false imprisonment, and misdemeanor battery.

District Judge Michael Griffin agreed to the delay, allowing defense attorneys and prosecutors until December to study the evidence. Waters said it was also necessary for him to endorse a Washoe County crime lab witness who will testify about the forensics.

Sweetland was arrested Oct. 19 after a deputy responded to Carson-Tahoe Hospital to meet with the girl and her mother.

According to the police report, the child told the officer Sweetland, who is known to the family, forced himself on her on the night of Oct.18 while her mother slept on the couch.

Hours later, when the mother awakened, the child told her what happened.

The report states when the mother confronted Sweetland he threw her onto the bed, pinned her with his knees "then put a knife to her throat (and) told her he would kill her."

Sweetland is free on a $100,000 bail.


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