ANN ARBOR (AP) -- DNA and other physical evidence shows that a young man raped and suffocated an Eastern Michigan University student, then stole her property from her dorm room, a prosecutor told jurors Monday at the start of the suspect's murder trial.
The December killing of Laura Dickinson, 22, of Hastings and a delay in informing the public about it led to the firing of university President John Fallon.
Orange Taylor III, 21, of Southfield is charged with an open count of murder, which gives the jury a choice of first- or second-degree murder. First-degree murder automatically brings a penalty of life in prison without parole, while second-degree murder carries up to life in prison.
Taylor also is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
"This case is every woman's worst nightmare," Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Blaine Longsworth told jurors. "The evidence will prove Orange Taylor committed first-degree murder. The evidence will show (Taylor) sexually assaulted her, suffocated her and afterwards stole her bags as well."
Authorities say Dickinson was sleeping when Taylor entered her room the night of Dec. 13. They say he raped her and smothered her with a pillow. A surveillance video shows him leaving with some of her property.
A custodian found her body Dec. 15.
Defense lawyer Alvin Keel acknowledged that his client's semen was on Dickinson's body but denied it proved he raped and killed her. Keel said Taylor found Dickinson lying on the floor partially naked and, thinking she was someone else, ejaculated on her.
"Ejaculation doesn't equal penetration and it doesn't necessarily equal asphyxiation," the defense lawyer said.
Fallon sued the university's board Thursday, saying officials violated his rights under Michigan's Whistleblower Protection Act when they fired him as president in July.