Judge tosses lawsuit by Baseline Killer victims

PHOENIX - A judge tossed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the City of Phoenix that was filed by the families of victims of the Baseline Killer.

In the lawsuit, the families alleged that most of Mark Goudeau’s crimes could have been prevented if the Phoenix Police Department tested all of the DNA evidence they collected a year before his arrest.  

In his decision, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur T. Anderson wrote, “City Defendants were conducting DNA testing with an eye to identify a then un-known suspect who committed a crime. To impose a duty on City Defendants that extends to unknown potential victims of an unknown suspect clearly would impose insurer-like liability on a law enforcement agency.”

Mark Goudeau was convicted of murdering nine people and raping and robbing a dozen more.

The untested DNA at the center of this lawsuit was collected in September 2005 from two victims of a sexual assault at a south Phoenix park.

After the attack, Phoenix Police sent some of the DNA swabs that were collected for testing. Another swab from the left breast of one of the victims went untested for more than a year, according the lawsuit.

During that time, eight more murders took place.

Once the untested swab was finally processed, police got a hit to Goudeau. His DNA was already in a database from a previous arrest.

The judge's decision comes just a few weeks before trial was scheduled to begin.

In a written statement, Al Hogue, the husband of one of Goudeau's victims, said "I am disappointed, angry and in disbelief that just as the case entered the trial after delay and more delays the justice system denied the victims day in court. It is very unfortunate that what really happened in that crime lab and how that evidence was mishandle will remain unchallenged."

The plaintiff's attorney Marc Victor told ABC15 that he is asking the judge to reconsider his decision. If the judge doesn't, Victor plans to appeal.

Phoenix Police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump also sent ABC15 a statement.

"Today's ruling supports what the Phoenix Police Department has believed all along; our duty to the community was served. The Phoenix Police Department and our investigators always had the best interest of the community and the victims in mind while conducting this very complex criminal investigation.The men and women of our Department worked diligently to identify, arrest and prosecute the person responsible for these horrific crimes."

The ABC15 Investigators first reported information about the lawsuit against the City of Phoenix during a series of reports about untested DNA evidence in Valley rape cases in November 2012 .

Our investigation uncovered there were more than 3,000 untested rape kits at Valley police departments. In Phoenix alone, there were more than 1,600 – a total from 2001 to 2012.

Investigator Dave Biscobing can be contacted at dbiscobing@abc15.com

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