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Tony Cercy

Tony Cercy makes his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court in July. The Casper business owner faces multiple sexual assault charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for Tony Cercy on Friday presented evidence suggesting the sexual assault he is charged with could not have occurred without waking others in his Alcova lake home. District Attorney Mike Blonigen, meanwhile, attempted to cast doubt on the testimony by casting it as unscientific.

The witnesses took the stand on the fifth day of the trial in Natrona County District Court.

A 21-year-old woman told jurors earlier this week that she woke in the early morning hours of June 25 to Cercy performing oral sex on her. The woman had passed out on the couch of his home.

Cercy faces three sexual assault charges. He maintains the incident never occurred.

Defense attorneys objected frequently to Blonigen’s questions, as they have throughout the trial. The expert witnesses contended that their work was sufficient to show that any assault would have woken dogs, and, by extension, other people in the house.

Early start

Friday’s proceedings began an hour earlier than they had Thursday, and the size of crowd was diminished by about a third compared to Tuesday’s opening statements.

Jennifer Brammeir, who examined DNA evidence in the case, said Cercy’s DNA profile was excluded from all samples taken from the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s clothes. The woman showered multiple times between the time of the alleged assault and when the samples were collected.

Under cross examination, Brammeir admitted it is unclear whether Cercy’s DNA was not found because the woman had showered or because it had never been present.

Blonigen next tried to paint three witnesses as close to Cercy, implying that their testimony was slanted.

The three morning witnesses were present at Cercy’s lake house hours before the assault is alleged to have occurred. They said they left his house around midnight and went to sleep at a nearby trailer. The three people were woken by the alleged victim in the early morning of June 25, they testified.

Ryun Olson said the alleged victim first described Cercy exposing himself to her, rather than the assault that has since been alleged.

During a contentious back and forth, Blonigen and Olson disagreed on Olson’s willingness to help with the investigation.

“You refused to meet with my office,” Blonigen said.

“Because I was in Texas,” Olson replied.

Olson works in a Texas oilfield.

Marcus Spurgin took the stand next, and told the jury the alleged victim had fallen off a boat the day before the alleged assault. Defense attorneys have implied bruising on the woman’s legs came from getting in and out of boats, rather than from Cercy, as the prosecution has alleged.

At the time the investigation begun, a business Spurgin worked for had been bidding for a contract with Cercy, Spurgin said under questioning from Blonigen.

Lindsey Casados, who was the final witness of the morning, said the alleged victim’s story changed multiple times in the hours and days following the assault.

The alleged victim told Casados that she had been driven by apparent strangers to the trailer, before saying she walked and finally saying Cercy drove her, Casados told the jury. Casados also said the woman described different types of assault when speaking with her.

Blonigen said Casados had characterized her conversations with the alleged victim differently in earlier interviews. At one point, Casados said an inconsistency with her statements on the stand must have been due to a typo in an interview transcript.

Blonigen then turned to Casados’ relationship with the Cercy family.

Blonigen asked Casados whether she had a close relationship with the Cercy family. That would depend on the definition of “close,” she said.

“If I look at the private jet logs, how often do I see a Casados on them?” the district attorney asked, in an apparent reference to Cercy’s private planes.

Casados’ sibling is best friends with one of Cercy’s children, Casados said.

Defense experts testify

After an hour-long break for lunch, three defense expert witnesses took the stand in succession to talk about a staged re-enactment of the allegations in the case. Although the prosecution had not finished its case, Judge Daniel Forgey said scheduling issues necessitated the defense witnesses testify Friday.

The re-enactment, which was described as a science experiment by the experts, consisted of a re-enactment of the alleged events. Video cameras recorded actors while they went through the motions of a script based on a transcript of the victim’s June statement to law enforcement. Audio instruments recorded the sound levels present in the Alcova lake house. The four dogs the defense has said were present at the house that weekend were kept in a bedroom.

When an actress playing the alleged victim slapped the actor playing Cercy, the dogs responded by barking “almost immediately,” an expert witness involved in the experiment said.

The video footage was not screened in court, in keeping with a pre-trial ruling by Forgey.

Mary Cablk, who holds a doctorate in forest resources and has conducted research funded by the Department of Defense, said the experiment determined the dogs would have barked louder than a fire alarm if the events described by the alleged victim took place. Two other people who were sleeping in the house at the time would have been woken by the dogs, she said.

Blonigen implied the experiment was flawed, because it did not take into account the alleged intoxication of one of the sleeping people. He also said the dogs likely responded differently to the actor than they would have Cercy.

When Blonigen said the video did not include all of the alleged victims actions as reported to authorities, Cablk said the experiment was still valid.

“That has no bearing on the experiment,” she said.

After a brief break, Blonigen introduced audio from the re-enactment. Defense attorney Pamela Mackey said because the audio was captured from the living room rather than the bedroom, it did not fully reflect the sound of the dogs’ barking.

Jesse Escochea, a TV producer who drafted the script and recorded the audio and video, then took the stand. He said his script and choreography were entirely based on the law enforcement interview and he left nothing out. When gaps appeared in the alleged victim’s statements to authorities, he asked the actors to stay put, Escochea testified.

After asking why the actress portraying the alleged victim did not make any indoor phone calls during the re-enactment, Blonigen presented Escochea with a transcript of the interview. Escochea admitted the transcript appeared to describe the woman as making such calls.

Blonigen also asked Escochea why the experiment did not have a control and or variance in inputs, as typically done during scientific inquiry. Blonigen did not ask Cablk, the scientist, that question.

“Mr. Blonigen keeps asking the wrong person the questions,” Mackey protested.

Jonni Joyce, a Sheridan College faculty member, then testified, saying the dogs would have woke anyone sleeping in the house. She said three of the dogs barked 84 times in the first minute and seven seconds of the reenactment.

After Blonigen asked if the dogs would react differently to Cercy than they did an actor, Joyce said the dogs had been introduced to the actor. She said the dogs would have barked even if Cercy had taken the actor’s place, citing the early morning hour of the re-enactment.

Before dismissing the jury, Forgey said the trial may extend into Wednesday — a day later than it had originally been scheduled to conclude. The trial will resume 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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