Chaparral High School Student Pleads Not Guilty to Scottsdale Sexual Assaults
Danny Jackson, the 16-year-old Chaparral High School student accused of two sexual assaults in Scottsdale, pleaded not guilty this morning to the charges against him.
Jackson was arrested nearly two weeks ago, thanks to an alleged DNA match, but his arrest came about a week after another man turned himself over to police in the case.
Shortly after the rapes were reported to police -- on October 18 and 24 -- Scottsdale police released a sketch of their suspect in the case, which was plastered all over TV stations.
Not long after that, it seemed like Scottsdale PD had their guy: a 22-year-old named Ryan Festa went to the police department with his attorney. Festa lives in the area of the sexual assaults, and apparently called his lawyer after he saw the sketch on TV, thinking it resembled him.
His attorney told Fox 10 at the time that his client turned himself in "because he wanted to give them the opportunity to look at him and determine whether they wanted to pursue any other comparisons between him and the sketch."
Festa was jailed on the charges, but a judge ordered that Festa be released because there wasn't enough evidence in the case. Police cleared Festa shortly after that, after it was determined that the DNA didn't match.
According to court documents previously obtained by New Times, Festa's attorney did all the talking for him in the interview with police, saying his client had a traumatic brain injury and is "very susceptible to suggestion."
The only thing police found at his apartment after serving a search warrant was some marijuana, which would be a probation violation, according to the documents.
On Halloween, police ran into Jackson, who would eventually become their new suspect in the case.
According to court documents, police were looking into some people who had been suspects in other crimes in the area where the sexual assaults occurred. Police responded to a criminal-damage call at a CVS store on October 31, at a location about a mile from the sexual assaults.
Jackson was arrested for that criminal damage, and according to court documents, was identified as someone who had been "previously identified as a person of interest in the sexual assault investigations."
Jackson's physical description matched up with the one provided by the victims, and when police brought Jackson to the police station, they gave him an unopened bottle of water as they interviewed him about the criminal damage at the CVS.
Police took the water bottle after the interview, and obtained Jackson's DNA -- which matched the rapist's, according to court documents.
Jackson admitted his involvement in the crimes, according to police.
In the first incident, on October 18, the suspect, allegedly Jackson, stood completely naked at the backdoor of a woman's condo, and forced the door open after the victim saw him there. The woman was sexually assaulted, and the suspect ran off after the victim promised not to "tell," according to court documents.
In the second incident, on October 24, a woman was attacked inside her apartment, about a quarter-mile away from the location of the first attack.
As the woman was being attacked, she offered the man marijuana to just leave. The woman tried to run away while the suspect was looking for this marijuana, but the suspect caught her. He ended up running away shortly after this, apparently upon getting spooked after hearing a neighbor's voice outside.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to the following charges:sexual assault, kidnapping, attempted sexual assault, sexual abuse, burglary, and aggravated assault. He's being held without bond.
Also of note, it was discovered that Jackson was also a football player at Chaparral, and accusations were made that the team's booster club had recruited Jackson, and set him up at the apartment he was living in -- which is located very close to the alleged crime scenes. The booster club called the accusations "false and irresponsible." Not that it lends credibility to the allegations, but if we had a dollar for every time we'd heard a similar accusation about Chaparral, let's just say we'd have multiple dollars.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.