Santa Rosa, CA – May 19, 2021 – Defendant Michael Sean Phillips, 52 years old of Santa Rosa, pleaded “no contest” Monday to various felony charges of sexual assault, with an enhancement for the victim being above the age of 65. Phillips also admitted a prior conviction of residential burglary dating from 2007. Under the negotiated disposition Phillips will be sentenced to serve 37 years in state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for June 14, 2021, before the Honorable Peter Ottenweller.
The charges were the result of an incident in March of 2019, when the defendant broke into the home of a 72-year-old woman living by herself at a Santa Rosa apartment complex. The woman, who requires the use of a cane or walker, had been smoking a cigarette in a common area outside her apartment in the early evening hours. She thought she noticed someone watching from a distant car and returned to her apartment. Shortly thereafter, a man knocked on the door of her apartment, forced his way inside, and proceeded to assault her. The elderly woman tried to physically resist her assailant but was easily overpowered. When the perpetrator left the victim’s apartment later that night, he hid her telephone. Police were not notified until the following morning.
Because the perpetrator was unknown to the victim, Santa Rosa police were unable to immediately develop a suspect. The perpetrator however had left a hat inside the victim’s bedroom. In an effort to quickly locate the assailant, detectives sent the hat to a private lab for expedited DNA testing. The results produced a hit for Michael Sean Phillips from the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS.) Phillips’ DNA was entered into the system in 2007 after he broke into the apartment of another Santa Rosa woman living on her own, resulting in his conviction of first-degree residential burglary. Phillips did not assault the woman in 2007, but stole a number of personal items from her bedroom, including her undergarments.
Additional testing in the present case also confirmed Phillips’ DNA in the elderly victim’s apartment. Once Phillips was determined to be the suspect, the 72-year-old victim recognized his image from an array of photographs.
The case was handled by Deputy District Attorney Martina Kitzmueller, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Matthew Stapleton. Detective Timothy Raymond of the Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.