Ruling allows evidence from other rape cases against Gallatin

Defense attorneys argue unsuccessfully that the incidents have few details in common with a northeast Vancouver attack

Wednesday, July 15 1998

By John Painter Jr. of The Oregonian staff

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The state can use evidence from four untried rape cases against defendant Michael Wayne Gallatin when his trial on a rape charge begins July 20, a judge has ruled.

Clark County Superior Judge Robert L. Harris, in a four-page opinion issued late Tuesday, ruled that the state could use similar events from the four untried rape cases in the upcoming trial.

Gallatin, 36, is charged with rape and burglary on April 6 in the Regency Court Apartments, 9013 N.E. 54th St. He is the only suspect in the November 1997 beating death of a Clackamas County woman.

The other four Clark County rapes occurred between 1993 and 1996. Gallatin is scheduled for trial on those charges Oct. 8.

Relying on a variety of appellate decisions, Harris ruled that, because of the repetition of the sexual attacks, the way they were committed, the intent necessary to enter the person's home and "the vulnerability of the victims in that they are in an isolated, one-on-one situation, it is important that the jury have the ability to appropriately balance the testimony of the parties."

Gallatin's court-appointed defense lawyer, Gerry Wear of Vancouver, contended last week that the state's request to present similarities from the other four cases to show a framework of behavior by the defendant was virtually a "signature" pattern. Signature crimes in Washington must be so alike as to be unique or identical.

Wear argued that in the other rapes there was no commonality on time of day, the victims' marital status, duration of attack, children at home or away, exchange of information between attacker and victim, or method of entry.

Allowing the prosecution to use such evidence would be "inflammatory beyond question and incredibly prejudicial," Wear argued.

The judge said in his opinion, "The evidence of (prior) bad acts are relevant, if established, to determine the nature and purpose in the extent that the perpetrator would go to achieve his desired result."

The state also has indicated that it is seeking expert witnesses to testify that the April 6 victim is suffering from so-called Stockholm syndrome, in which prisoners come to identify with and support their captors.

The state apparently is preparing to counter a defense claim that the multiple sexual contacts on April 6 between Gallatin and his alleged victim were consensual.

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