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DNA leads to arrest in old assault case

Seven and a half years ago, a man broke into a Powell woman’s home, battered her face with a rock, stole her cell phone and fled. Last week, police arrested the man they believe committed the assault.

Charging documents say recent DNA testing concluded a hair and other material found at the apartment in 2006 belonged to Joseph A. Gould, who is now 39.

Gould, who now lives in Worland, was arrested on felony charges of aggravated assault and aggravated burglary on Dec. 18.

At a hearing in Park County Circuit Court the following day, Deputy Park County Attorney Jim Davis argued for a $50,000 cash bond for Gould. Davis noted the violent nature of the 2006 allegations and said Gould had past burglary convictions in Idaho and Big Horn County, a pending burglary charge in South Dakota and three pending forgery charges in Park County that allege he distributed several hundred dollars worth of counterfeit $20 bills.

Gould asked if he could be released on an ankle monitor, saying he’s been keeping in contact with police, has never missed a court appearance and is one of the prime caretakers for his mother-in-law.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set bond at $30,000 cash.

“You’ve got a history of burglaries,” Waters told Gould. “This one, someone was hurt, and that causes me a lot of concern.”

The reported victim of the assault had fallen asleep watching TV before waking to a loud crashing sound sometime in the early morning hours of July 1, 2006.

“The next thing she knew, there was a male on top of her in her bed, beating her face with an unknown object,” wrote Powell Police Investigator Mike Hall of the account the woman gave in 2006.

“(The woman) asked the male, ‘Why are you doing this?’ The male subject asked, ‘Where is your phone?’” Hall wrote of the account. The woman said she kicked the man in the ensuing struggle and he fled — with her cell phone — through the broken-in front door.

The woman called police at 4:08 a.m. and responding officers found cuts on her forehead, swelling below her right eye and a large cut on her right cheek, plus marks on her left arm and right shoulder.

“(The woman) also had blood all over her head, chest and arms. (She) was crying and could not understand why someone would do this to her,” Hall wrote of the account given to police at the time. Traces of blood were found on the bedding, walls, floors and furniture in the woman’s bedroom, he wrote.

The Tribune reported in 2006 that the woman had been treated at Powell Valley Hospital for serious but non-life threatening injuries and was released later in the day.

Powell police and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents spent some seven hours processing the East Fifth Street apartment, then-Investigator Dave Brown told the Tribune at the time.

Brown had said the department was pursuing a number of leads and some possible suspects had been identified, but the case later ran cold.

The woman died in 2011; police say the death was unrelated to the attack.

About six months ago, Powell police reopened the case to try taking advantage of DNA testing at the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation’s Crime Laboratory. The technology hadn’t been available at the time of the crime.

“Just as technology improves, you go back and take a look at some of those cases,” said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt.

Police had found a bloodied rock at the East Fifth Street apartment in 2006 and believed it had been used to attack the woman. Hall’s affidavit says a crime lab analyst ran DNA tests on material found on the rock and a reddish-blond hair found on the woman’s bed.

The hair came back as a match for Gould, who had to submit his DNA to a nation-wide database after a prior felony conviction; the material on the rock was also consistent with Gould’s DNA, Hall wrote.

The investigator said Gould matches the description given by the woman and police records show he lived only a couple blocks away from the woman’s apartment at the time of the attack.

A preliminary hearing, where Judge Waters will weigh whether there’s enough evidence for Gould to face a trial, has been scheduled for Thursday.

Powell police consider the case still open and ask anyone with information to contact Hall at 754-2212.

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