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Vaughan v. Nooth

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 30, 2015

MARK NOOTH, Respondent.

Thomas J. Hester, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Portland, Oregon, Attorney for Petitioner.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Nick M. Kallstrom, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, Salem, Oregon, Attorneys for Respondent.


GARR M. KING, District Judge.

Petitioner Darren Earl Vaughan, an inmate incarcerated at Snake River Correctional Institution ("SRCI"), brings this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254, seeking a writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons set forth below, I deny the petition.


A Klamath County grand jury returned an indictment charging Vaughan with two counts of first degree rape and two counts of first degree sodomy arising from his alleged sexual abuse of his step-daughter, S.A. A jury, empaneled on September 29, 2010, heard opening statements and received testimony from five of the State's witnesses: Lake County Deputy Charles Pore, who initially interviewed S.A. and conducted the investigation; Bonnie Vaughan, the victim's mother; Devon Mast from the Oregon State Police Forensics Laboratory; Daniel Petersen, a forensic scientist with the Oregon State Police; Lisa Cahill, a nurse practitioner with the CARES[1] program who examined S.A.; and Kendra Holderman, a child forensics interviewer for CARES.

Deputy Pore described meeting S.A. at her school on January 9, 2009; at the time of his meeting, he "put her in the age of 12 to 13[.]" Resp't Ex. 105, at 22. He understood from her that the sexual abuse had occurred in both Klamath County and Lake County.

Ms. Vaughan testified that S.A.'s date of birth was February 17, 1996. She testified that Vaughan was 47 "I think" at the time of her testimony. Resp't Ex. 104, at 46.[2] The family had moved from Klamath County to Lake County in 2008. She also testified that when she visited Vaughan at the jail following his arrest, she asked Vaughan how he could do this to S.A.; he responded, "I don't know." Resp't Ex. 105, at 58-59. In the same conversation, she remembered he volunteered that everything S.A. was saying was true and "Please don't blame her." Id. at 59. He also said if he could go back, he would change everything. The jury heard a recording of that conversation between Vaughan and Ms. Vaughan.

Together, the testimony of Mast and Petersen covered the physical evidence in the case and the DNA test results on that physical evidence. Specifically, two sofa cushions, a wash cloth, and a mattress cover were recovered from Vaughan's camper parked on the family's property. The mattress cover bore a stain containing seminal fluid; the seminal fluid revealed at least three DNA contributors. The major contributor matched S.A.'s profile (in a random population of unrelated individuals the frequency of occurrence of that DNA profile is less than 1 in 10 billion). Vaughan could not be excluded as a minor contributor (on average 1 in every 25, 000 Caucasians would not be excluded as a contributor), and Ms. Vaughan's DNA was inconclusive (too limited an amount of DNA obtained to say whether she was a contributor).

Cahill and Holderman testified about their interview of S.A. and the associated physical examination at CARES. Cahill testified that S.A. was 12 at the time of the examination and that the changes in S.A.'s hymenal tissue were consistent with repetitive sexual intercourse over an extended period of time. The jury watched the video of their interview of S.A., which lasted approximately two hours.

The next day, on September 30, 2010, Vaughan appeared with his attorney, who reported to the court that Vaughan wished to enter a no contest plea to Count 3. Vaughan's attorney represented that he had "discussed this at some length with Mr. Vaughan and it's a very difficult choice he's making, but he feels it's better than have the girl testify[.]" Resp't Ex. 106, at 1. Vaughan acknowledged the offense carries a determinative sentence of 300 months' confinement, with a lifetime term of supervision. Vaughan also acknowledged the charges pending in Lake County, that he intended to enter a plea there as well, and that all the parties understood his sentence in Lake County would run concurrent with his sentence in Klamath County.

Judge Dan Bunch asked Vaughan the following question:

So to the charge Count 3, Sodomy in the First Degree in violation of Oregon Revised Statute 163.405(b), a Class A felony, that you did on or prior to 16 February 2008, but after 16 February, 2007, in this county, unlawfully and knowingly engage[] in deviate sexual intercourse with [S.A.], whose date of birth is February 17, 1996, a child under the age of 12 years, said acts being contrary to the ...

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