Accused predator’s attorney gets an extension

Convicted rapist and former Port Orchard resident Richard Lynn Sauer will avoid prison a while longer, it appears.

Sauer, 26, is being held in Kitsap County Jail while his defense attorney prepares the case against Sauer’s second set of rape charges. Although the trial was supposed to begin Monday, Sauer’s attorney Larry Knappert successfully petitioned to have the trial date moved to April 7.

The reason? Knappert is having all the DNA evidence against Sauer independently re-tested — a process that can be unpredictably slow.

“The state came at this from a scientific viewpoint, so it’s going to take this long,” Knappert said.

He went on to say cases that rely on DNA or other genetic information often do drag on for months if not years.

Sauer is accused of raping a 20-year-old woman in the Long Lake area in July 2000.

According to the victim’s statement, Sauer threatened the victim with a pocket knife and told her to remove her clothing. He then threw her on the ground and raped her, cutting her hair and back with the knife.

The victim had a sexual assault examination done at Harrison Hospital immediately after the attack. However, the DNA samples collected from the victim were not matched against Sauer’s DNA until Sept. 13, when a forensic scientist entered Sauer’s DNA into the computer and matched him to the 2000 attack.

At that time, Sauer was facing charges in a separate rape case, which occurred in 2002 in the victim’s South Kitsap apartment. Sauer was convicted of that crime and sentenced in November to almost 30 years in prison for first-degree rape and first-degree burglary.

Because Sauer now has a weighty offender score and a prior first-degree rape conviction, if he is convicted of first-degree rape with a deadly weapon for the 2000 attack, his sentence will likely be much higher.

In addition, Sauer could be forced to serve the sentences consecutively, further upping his time in prison.

Because of the complexity of the case and the scientific nature of the evidence involved, Knappert expects the trial, when it finally starts, could last for two weeks.

“If not more,” he said.

To try and streamline the inevitable procession of motions that will be filed between now and the trial, a judge has been pre-assigned to the case. Knappert said there will likely be much debate over whether to allow the prosecution to talk about Sauer’s 2002 attack during the trial for his alleged 2000 rape. A judge, in the end, will decide whether the information is admissible.

Knappert said the system usually works much better if the judge who makes that decision — and others — is the judge who ends up presiding over the trial as well.

“The point of a pre-assigned judge is to deal with specific issues all the way through,” he said. “It’s cleaner. It saves argument.”

Looking forward, Knappert said he does not expect any more delays in Sauer’s case. Although Sauer had to suspend his speedy trial rights to push the trial to April, Knappert said that suspension is not open-ended — he would need a reason to put the trial off again.

Because Sauer stands convicted of a another crime, he is not eligible for bonded release.

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