A Maryland appeals court has affirmed the conviction of a Germantown man who was sentenced to 45 years in prison last year for pushing a woman down an embankment, shoving cocaine into her face and beating her unconscious before raping her.
David Lee Williams was convicted and sentenced late last year for the crime that happened in October 2017 near a bus stop in Gaithersburg. Following the sentencing, Williams appealed his conviction to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, arguing that the warrant used to obtain his DNA was not supported by probable cause. The appeals court, however, ruled last week that the warrant was valid and affirmed his conviction.
The warrant, issued in 2019, was based on three separate events, according to court records.
First, in June 2017, police responded to a reported residential burglary on Brookes Avenue in Gaithersburg. The resident said he found two men in his home, holding his television set. The men fled the scene with the TV. The resident said he recognized one of the men as Williams, court records say.
In August 2017, police responded to another residential burglary report at the same address. Police collected a blood sample from the scene and determined the person had also been involved in the prior burglary at the home. No arrests were made at the time.
When the woman awoke after she was assaulted in October 2017, she was naked, aside from her underwear, and all of her belongings were gone. She ran home and was transported to a hospital, where DNA was collected. The woman was hospitalized for a week and received physical therapy for eight months due to her injuries, according to court records.
During the investigation, police reviewed surveillance video from a nearby store and saw a man matching Williams’ description walking across a parking lot shortly after the attack, headed toward a storage unit. “A short time after the event,” police received an anonymous tip that someone matching the same description was living in the storage unit. The man was later identified as Williams.
In February 2018, the DNA collected from the burglary scene and the rape scene were matched to the same person, who was not identified at the time. Williams was later identified as a possible suspect and a warrant to obtain a DNA sample from him was issued in July 2019, which connected him to the crimes, according to court records.
Williams argued in his appeal that the warrant was not based on sufficient probable cause and instead was based on “speculation of the detective.”
The appeals court found that there was probable cause to issue the warrant, based on all of the evidence, including that the surveillance video showed the man holding a bag that matched that of the sexual assault victim, which was taken from the scene.
“A confirmed tip that appellant lived in close proximity to the scene of the rape, in terms of height, weight, race, age, and hairstyle, was at least similar in appearance to the description of one of the robbers and of the rapist, and was seen carrying a black bag similar in appearance to that taken from the rape victim added to create a fair probability that evidence of the crime would be found from a swab of appellant’s mouth, as, indeed, it was,” the appeals court decision says.