DNA exonerates man in sex assault case
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com January 21, 2013 11:50AM
Updated: February 23, 2013 6:16AM
When police arrested Nakita Ulmer for the 2009 robbery and assault of a senior citizen, the community was reeling from another brutal attack committed about a week before.
Ulmer, 26, said he didn’t do it. Less than two years later, DNA proved he was right.
“He’s just glad this nightmare is over,” said Ulmer’s lawyer, Chuck Bretz.
About 4:30 a.m. April 1, 2009, a 62-year-old woman was doing laundry in the basement of her Park Avenue home when she heard a loud bang and turned around to see a man who pushed her to the ground and demanded money.
“Somebody came racing around that corner” and “just bam, pushed my head down,” the victim said in a taped interview with investigators, according to court records. “The only time I saw his face really was when he came around that corner.”
The man led the woman upstairs and took cash from her wallet and purse before pushing her into a bedroom and sexually assaulting her.
The victim faked a heart attack, and eventually her attacker left, court records show.
Detectives interviewed the Park Avenue victim again after an October 2009 attack on an 89-year-old woman on May Street to see if there were any similarities.
Joliet police blanketed the neighborhood, looking for people matching the descriptions of people seen out in the neighborhood that night.
The victim picked Ulmer out of a lineup, but later told prosecutors she would have to hear his voice to be sure he was the guy.
Ulmer, who was on parole after completing the Illinois Department of Corrections’ boot camp program for a delivery of a controlled substance conviction, was arrested on Oct. 15, 2009, on charges of home invasion, robbery, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse and held in the county jail in lieu of $3 million bond.
“It was, in fact, and still is my belief he is innocent,” Bretz said. “He told me from day one, ‘Chuck, I did not do this.’”
In February 2011, a defense expert concluded Ulmer could not have contributed to the DNA collected at the crime scene. A state expert said Ulmer — and about 97 percent of the general population — could match the DNA from the scene.
In March 2011, Ulmer was released after 17 months in jail while the state appealed a Will County judge’s ruling that ultimately dismantled the state’s case.
When officers arrested Ulmer, they found an erectile dysfunction pill labeled “Stiff Nights” on him.
Prosecutors tried to introduce the pill as evidence against Ulmer, as the victim claimed her attacker had trouble getting an erection.
But Judge Richard Schoenstedt would not allow it into evidence, as it was discovered six months after the attack.
The 3rd District Appellate Court backed him up.
On Jan. 8, the charges pending against Ulmer in Will County court were dismissed.
Ulmer declined to be interviewed about the case, but said through Bretz he was grateful the state came to the conclusion it did.