BLOOMINGTON — A teenage girl allegedly raped by Kyle Brestan would benefit from having a support dog with her during her testimony at his trial, prosecutors argued in a motion filed in McLean County court.
Brestan, 34, is accused of sexually assaulting a girl in the spring of 2017 at his home in Bloomington. According to authorities, the two met at a local church where the girl's father attended a support group for recovering substance abusers.
The state has asked that Joch, a specially trained facility dog, be allowed to accompany the teenage girl during her testimony at Brestan's trial in September. The dog was acquired by the Children's Advocacy Center in 2016 to provide emotional support to child victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The dog has been used in two Livingston County cases and one sex assault trial in McLean County juvenile court.
In January 2018, McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski denied the state's request for Joch to accompany the same minor to the witness stand in an unrelated sex assault case. In his ruling, the judge said he felt the dog "could engender sympathy" and be prejudicial to the defendant.
In the motion filed in Brestan's case, the state predicted the girl's testimony may be "an uncomfortable and traumatic experience, enhanced by (her) young age, relationship with the accused, and the subject matter of (her) testimony."
Brestan's defense lawyer Stephanie Wong has filed an objection to the dog's presence in the courtroom based on the alleged prejudice to her client.
Brestan's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 9 on sexual assault and child pornography charges.
Her body was found May 21, 2017, in a room of the Econo Lodge on the city's west side. The victim had been stabbed 105 times.
The pornographic images of the minor girl were found on Brestan's phone during his questioning by police in the murder investigation, according to police.
A July 19 hearing is set on the motion related to the support dog.
The state has chosen to bring Brestan to trial on the rape charges ahead of the murder charges. Judge Casey Costigan told lawyers this week to be prepared to start the murder trial in September if the sex assault case is resolved.