ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Authorities on Thursday gave jurors step-by-step accounts of how they collected DNA they believe linked a former Gallup paramedic to the alleged rape of an 11-year-old boy in an Albuquerque arroyo.

But defense attorneys for Genaro Sandoval raised questions about whether the DNA in the decade-old case might have been tainted after the Albuquerque Police Department's evidence room was hit by a series of scandals over thefts, mismanagement and lost evidence.

Sandoval, 39, is charged in the 2003 rape of a boy who was walking home from school.

Sandoval, who is separately charged with molesting five other boys in arroyos, sat quietly during questioning and only occasionally spoke to his attorneys.

Police forensic scientist Donna Manogue told jurors that DNA was carefully collected from the boy's underwear and stored in the evidence room. It is the only case with DNA evidence and was separated from the other cases.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Natalie Bruce pressed Manogue on the reliability of the evidence because it sat in the evidence room during the 2005 scandal that eventually led to the resignation of Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos.

"Were you aware of the problems with the evidence room between 2003 to 2005?" Bruce asked.

"I was never made privy to any information," Manogue said.

Asked if she could vouch for the integrity of the officers who operated the evidence room during the scandal, Manogue said, "I can't because I don't know them and I didn't work with them."

According to police, the victim in the current case was assaulted by a man dressed in a hoodie who offered him $30 to spray paint graffiti under a bridge. The boy told police the man recorded and assaulted him after showing him a gun.

Sandoval wasn't linked to the assault until 2007 after he pleaded guilty to videotaping the genitals of three teens. Authorities said Sandoval was required to submit DNA samples to the FBI's nationwide DNA index as part of his plea agreement. That's when detectives were alerted to a match that led them to Sandoval, who was living in Gallup at the time.

He was arrested by Albuquerque police and digital cameras and computers were confiscated from his home.

The five separate cases against Sandoval also allege molestations in Albuquerque arroyos. He faces a total of 25 counts from kidnapping to criminal sexual penetration and could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.

Closing arguments in the current trial could come as early as Friday.


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