True Frustration For All
I usually write a brief introduction early in the morning before the trial starts. For some reason, I had nothing to write about yesterday. Was it a premonition that there would be nothing of evidentiary value happening in court? Actually, there were some things that happened. Judge Perry gave Jeff Ashton time to re-read and analyze Dr. Rodriguez' late deposition on opinions he never put in his report. Then, there was the issue of the non-report of Richard Eikelenboom. That meant another slap-down for Baez, another "package" to be prepared by the prosecution to prepare to issue a show-cause order for Jose Baez, and yet another deposition to take on the non-DNA issue. Judge Perry must be internally frustrated by the defense shenanigans that continue to plague the case. Jeff Ashton and the rest of the prosecution team have to sit and take the admonitions to ALL the attorneys when they know darn well it is Jose Baez the judge is referencing. Perry is doing his best to avoid a mistrial and has been overly fair to the defense. In any case, especially a death penalty case, a judge has to do what a judge has to do.
The court day opened with a discussion of Richard Eikelenboom’s testimony. Jeff Ashton said that Richard Eikelenboom has said in his deposition that DNA can be found in decomposition fluid. His conclusion was not based on any peer-reviewed articles. It was formulated on Saturday, based on opinions he had heard. He said he was never informed about the court orders.
Ashton asked that the opinions of lack of DNA from the carpet stain be excluded as it would need to go through the Frye hearing process. He also pointed out that the defense had already offered that testimony already from Ms. Seubert.
Ashton presented his instruction to the court concerning Eikelenboom’s testimony. He read it so fast, but it did mention that the prosecution was not made aware of his findings until Saturday.
Baez said he filed a response to the court December 15, 2010. He listed the CV and his fields of expertise. Baez pointed out sentence 3, he listed:
1. Richard Eikelenboom’s CV is attached as exhibit 12.
2. Mr. Eikelenboom’s field of expertise is DNA, crime scene analysis and trace recovery.
3. If Mr. Eikelenboom were called to testify, he would testify in the areas of DNA, crime scene analysis and trace recovery.
4. Mr. Eikelenboom has reviewed all of the reports and photographs taken at the recovery site and has personally inspected many of the items.
5. If Mr. Eikelenboom would be called to testify, the substance of the facts that he would be expected to testify to would be to rebut any false claims raised by the State’s forensic experts dealing with DNA, crime scene analysis or trace recovery. Until that occurs it is difficult to give a complete summary of his opinions and the grounds for those opinions.
There was nothing specific in those sentences.
Baez said he wanted Eikelenboom to testify on the degradation of DNA. He then went on to play cover up and not for "gotcha moments." Baez said he should be called solely to the degradation of DNA. He pointed out that Ms. Seubert had already testified there could be DNA in decompositional fluids. In addition, Baez did not feel there were Frye issues here.
Then, he added that this witness should be able to discuss low-copy DNA and the degradation of DNA.
Jeff Ashton stated that the state did not offer DNA evidence and the defense is rebutting its own witness. Also, Ashton had a problem with the carpet sample. On the other issues, he was in agreement with Baez.
Judge Perry brought up the DNA testing that was done in Pennsylvania. As to the carpet sample, the defense never tested it.
Eikelenboom was never informed about the items that were tested and what the results were. He believed they could have been tested but didn't know they were not.
Baez then said that they were talking about two kinds of testing. Dr. Eikelenboom tests for touch DNA. The defense wanted him to test the items but the court wouldn't permit him to do it. The defense had STR DNA done on the shorts and the laundry bag. The only crime lab available to do touch DNA testing in the US is the NYC Crime Lab. This research is more prevalent in Europe.
Ashton said that it did not indicate in his deposition that there was no such testing available in the US.
Baez said that he did not know if touch DNA had passed the Frye Test in Florida.
Jose Baez objected to the jury instruction prepared by the prosecution and they would prepare an alternate instruction.
Otherwise, their next witness was CSI Jennifer Welch. She was called to the stand by Dorothy Sims.
Ms. Welch had made observations about the evidence collection during December 12 - 14. She noted that the areas had been cleaned of leaf vegitation of about 4 inches. Around the tree trunks, it was cleared around 0 - 4".
Then, Sims asked her about the photographs taken at the scene. Did she remove any of the items found? CSI Welch said vines were cut away which obstructed the view.
Welch also took photographs of the scene after it had been cleared. Sims asked to show a photograph not in evidence to the witness.
Welch described the picture of the scene after it had been cleared.
Sims asked her about a log that had been near the skull. The log was moved by two people at the scene to assist in removing the skull. Sims then put up another picture which Welch took. It was a photo after hanging vegtitation had been moved out of the way.
Ms. Sims was finished with the witness. Jeff Ashton republished the picture of the scene so that Ms. Welch could identify it. She said she couldn't say where in the remains location was and how near it was to the scull.
Ms. Sims asked how she identified the groupings of photographs. They were uploaded into a system which gives them a Call ID number. It is not a number she created, it's what the machine created. Welch did not have the call number Sims asked for. She was finished.
Ms. Welch was excused, subject to recall.
Dorothy Sims then called Dr. Jane Bock, a botanist. One of her specialties is forensic botany. She gave her educational background and testified she had taught botany for 30 or 40 years. She said she has about 80 peer-reviewed articles. She has authored three books and edited another one.
She went on to list a number of organizations which had financed her research and provided her membership in professional organizations. She has testified 50+ times, including depositions, as a forensic botanist.
Dr. Bock looked at photographs taken by the ME and LE and has visited the remains scene. She reviewed the ME's report, the description of the recovery site in Ms. Welch's report. She read Dr. David Hall's report.
She visited the site February 1, 2009. She had a photographer with her there.
Ms. Sims showed her a blow-up photograph of a picture at the recovery scene. Bock testified that the material on the ground is leaf litter with pieces of stems and evergreen needles. Based on that, Dr. Bock, stated that the shortest amount of time the remains could have been at the scene was two weeks. However, she could not say when they were placed there. She also testified that the vegetation in the car did not match the leaf litter. Among the vegetation was a leaf from a camphor tree and there was no camphor tree in the area.
When Dorothy Sims starting asking about using the circumference of roots to determine the age, Jeff Ashton asked for the first side bar for the day.
Ashton's objection was sustained, Sims asked Dr. Bock if she could tell how old the plants and roots were. Bock said that she couldn't because size and growth rate vary widely among plants. When asked how that could be determined, Dr. Bock went through the sort of scientific study one would have to do.
Dorothy Sims was finished with the witness and Jeff Ashton cross examined her.
He started out by pointing out she was from Colorado. She said she did her PhD thesis work in Florida and has had some research projects there. Her research in 1966 for her PhD was studying the growth of water hyacinths in various places. She also studied the food habits of the tortoise in about 1980-1990. Her parents lived in Florida and she had some research support for the study of tortoises. She also studied the work of Robert Long and had familiarized her botanical knowledge of Florida plant life. Her study of this continues to now.
Most of her work has been done is studying grasslands here and in South America and she agreed that different areas of the country have unique botanical ecologies.
She viewed the scene in various stages of the process. This was a swampy area which was frequently wet. It is considered a swamp, hardwood.
Ashton then went to the statement she made about the fact that the body could have been in the spot for two weeks. It was her opinion that the roots could have grown into the hair mat in two weeks in December. He also asked her about the roots growing into the laundry bag. She also felt they could have grown there in two weeks in December.
As to the roots growing into the bones, she said she suspected so, but she is no expert in bones.
She stated she never had experience of root growth into skeletons. She had seen it in skeletons that had been in place for several years. Then, Ashton asked again, and she said she had seen roots that had grown into a skeleton. Ashton cited her deposition, where she said she hadn't.
She responded that she had seen crime scene and had seen root growth in a skeleton which had been in place for 10 years. She did agree that her experience with roots growing into bones were limited.
Ashton then went into the leaf litter. He pointed out that the skull was covered in leaf litter up to the eyes. He then pulled up a photograph of the skull prior to its removal and showed it to the witness and the jury. Ashton got her to agree that the leaf litter was burying the skull up to the eyes or nose level. Dr. Bock referred to a leaf on the top of the skull! She also said that some of it could be humus. She didn't answer direclty, but finally said that there were leaves of widely varied levels of decomposition. She said that it was a variation based on when the leaves fell, and in what condition they fell from the tree. Some of the leaves could have blown in.
Again, she was asked if that situation could develop in two weeks in December. She was very reluctant to answer. Bock testified that her decision was from the large picture taken when she was there in February; all the leaf litter had accumulated from 15 December to her visit in February.
Ashton asked if she was aware of leaf fall times in Florida vegetation. She said that she was.
He then asked the witness to step down and pointed out areas of the ground were bare and other areas had leaf litter.
Dr. Bock stated that the leaf litter in the skull pictures was equivalent to the winter picture. He asked if she measured it. She asked if anyone did! Jeff dealt with that nicely, saying he was the one who got to ask questions.
Ashton pointed out that the vines might have impeded the leaves from moving around as much. He also pointed out that the leaves were higher on one side than the other. She agreed, but suggested it was a result of people trampling around, wind actions, and animals.
When asked to state where the body was found, she said Mr. McKenna, her photographer had spoken to people who should have known where it was, like Linda Baden...
Jeff Ashton got her to admit that she was not prepared to render an opinion as to when the remains were left there. At first she said no, and then she said a couple of weeks beforehand.
Ashton pulled out her deposition and stated then that she had said she could NOT render an opinion.
Dr. Bock said that she didn't know exactly when the body was placed there. Now she said that the body COULD have been there for two weeks or a great deal longer.
Ms. Sims then did re-direct. She brought up that Florida is a semi-tropical area. Then, she asked how long she had studied plants of semi-tropical areas. Bock answered 30 years. She taught the same for at least 31 years.
Sims also ask if there is an opening, is it possible for a root to grow in it. First she said no and then depending on the item. She looked at the log (that had been near the skull). She supposed it was heavy since it took two people to move it. Bock believed that if the log had been further studied, it would have been useful.
Then, Sims went on to the easel with crinkly paper to discuss humus and leaf litter. Bock made a drawing and explained that as leaves decay, they become humus. Also, if the leaf litter and humus are wet, the item could sink.
Ms. Sims was finished and Jeff Ashton asked a few more questions.
He asked if it was her testimony that the skull sank into the leaf litter. She couldn't say.
He then asked if she knew that one of the bones had been buried in 4'' in muck. Would that indicate the skull had been there longer? Dr. Bock also suggested a dog or a coyote could bury the bone.
With that testimony, Dr. Bock was excused.
Then, the situation with Richard Eikelenboom was discussed. He said he had provided an affidavit dated January 21, 2011. It was what was provided to the prosecution.
Judge Perry read Baez’ version of the jury instruction. The key part was that the report was not provided until Saturday. Baez objected because he had withdrawn the three areas of conflict involved.
Under questioning by Jose Baez, Richard Eikelenboom said that there was a period of time when he lost track of the case. Even so, the defense had the ability to reach them.
Jose Baez asked if this is the first time someone had asked him to write a report that had parameters like this. He said it does happens sometimes in the Dutch Courts. Eikelenboom added that the report could be done on their own research or on research by another party.
For a long period of time Ms. Medina and Eikelenboom's wife acted as intermediaries between Baez and Eikelenboom..
Mr.. Eikelenboom was then questioned by Judge Perry.
He was first requested for the case was when he looked over the evidence, 13 July, 2010. When asked if he had been informed that he would have to provide a report with his opinions. He said he hadn't been.
Perry then went into the fact that the defense had to provide the various pieces of information that he was to give his CV, etc. Eikelenboom said he did not know this.
He communicated with the defense by phone, e-mail, and Skype. From December, 2010 to May 2011 was he supposed to reduce his findings to writing. He was communicating with Jose Baez and Michelle Medina. Eikelenboom was asked to write a report Friday night by the defense team.
All he wrote about was the viewing of the evidence, took photographs, and never did any testing.
In addition, the affidavit he wrote was what he thought was wanted.
Again, the blame is cast on to Medina and his wife, they didn’t keep him in the loop!
Another excuse he gave was that he was in the transition of moving from Holland to the US.
Eikelenboom also said that when he discussed the issues with Baez on Saturday was when he formed ideas about his testimony.
Obviously, Baez pulled this expert in to form opinions based on problems he had in testimony earlier in the trial.
As to the PowerPoint, it is a general discussion about his DNA work which has nothing to do with this case.
When he went to Ashton's office on Sunday, he was turned away. Jeff Ashton was some kind of rude to him. After that, Ms. Medina told him to write the report!
Jeff Ashton took over the questioning and asked if he could have developed the same information for his report four months ago if he had a conversation with Mr. Baez. He asked if Baez gave him any new information on Saturday.
Eikelenboom said it was new to him because he didn't follow the case.
Did Baez give him any new reports or factual information? He said he did on Friday and Saturday. He received FBI reports and pictures on Saturday. He said he had seen reports before and he had formed an opinion of the case. During last week, he asked for more information and got all the reports... after he got the subpoena to testify.
Judge Perry then gave his ruling. He said that the violation of the court order was not inadvertent, it should have been clearly communicated to the expert. It was willful.
Judge Perry then went to the second prong of the test. Was it trivial or substantial? Perry found it was NOT trivial. It indeed was substantial.
The third prong was if it harmed the State of Florida. The state was given the opportunity to depose the witness. He indicated that since there was nothing to depose on, they had been given the opportunity to do so.
Perry decided that the court will not permit the witness to testify on the possibility of DNA analysis on the stain in trunk of the car.
The defense will be given until Saturday to file any potential motion they want for a Frye hearing. Wednesday or Thursday evening, after a one hour break, the hearing will be held.
Baez then had an issue of their own. The defense had handed them two CD's of discovery.
Judge Perry said it would be done during the lunch hour.
Jeff Ashton asked that slides about the touch DNA be removed from the PowerPoint presentation.
The jury was returned and Jeff Ashton voir dired the witness on his educational background.
I missed a good deal of this because one feed dropped and it took a while to get another one running!
Ashton finished and asked him not to be qualified as an expert in DNA based on his lack of educational background. (He pretty much learned on the job.)
Baez asked if he had training in trace collection, DNA analysis, and so on. He said he did. His institute is accredited by a board in the Netherlands.
His lab has done testing for law enforcement over 100 times and he has testified in court over 70 times.
Eikelenboom has testified three times in American courts, one by LE and twice by the defense. He is now setting up a lab in Colorado.
He took training, including through the court, but he couldn't say it was accredited.
He's had over twenty years of experience in DNA.
Judge Perry accepted him as an expert in DNA analysis.
Before going to lunch, we were treated to another one of Jose Baez' issues.
He complained that he had been given discovery by the state. A quick perusal, it appeared that many of the documents were items that had just come up. However, there was one disk with information from the Anthony desktop computer. The report was completed in April, 2008. He also noticed some photographs of internet searches of shot girls which may have been viewed on the computer. He also mentioned that George Anthony had already testified to Casey's advising the shot girls what to wear.
The state's computer expert had already testified and Baez asked for a Richardson hearing unless the state did not plan to use it.
Linda Burdick said that some of this material that had to do with an investigation done last week in which there was a tip that Casey had communicated with an inmate, April Wheland (sp?).
The woman's child had died by drowning and the grandfather found the baby. She said she didn't talk to Ms. Anthony, but may have talked to others and Casey could have learned from it. She had learned out of it last weekend and the written reports were given to her on Friday.
The last item was a filter copy from the hard drive that Mr. Baez has had for years. They would be used in rebuttal if Ms. Anthony testified about her activities on June 16.
Even though he had the information, she decided that if they were to use a demonstrative aid, they would give that to counsel, rather than holding it for rebuttal.
Ms. Burdick said that her office is flooded with calls for all sorts of reasons.
On 1-6 (Whelan material) the judge ruled it was not a discovery violation.
Item #7 (The computer material). Baez said that giving the defense the hard drive was like giving them tons of phone books. (How could the prosecution not find all the information they were going to use in the rebuttal case and hand it over to them!)
Ms. Burdick said that the discovery contained all the information on the desktop on June 16, 2008. The defense could have filtered it out themselves, especially since Mr. Baez gave a timeline in his opening that didn't mesh with the what the computer contained.
Baez kept on whining. The BEST line was when Baez mentioned he didn't give a time for the alleged drowning in his opening.
Perry gave Baez a spanking, telling him that the 16th was a day of great importance! He pointed out that knowing how the members of the family spent their day on the 16th would be very important to the case!
Baez didn't bother to have his computer experts explore that specific day!
I can't believe that Baez didn't go into the 16th in depth before making up his malarkey about what happened on the 16th.
Baez kept referring to the information as "new evidence" and Judge Perry kept saying that it wasn't "new evidence" if he had it since 2008!
Court resumed after lunch with the defense returning Richard Eikelenboom to the witness stand to go into the body of his testimony.
Mr. Eikelenboom gave an explanation of touch DNA. (In short, it's when you touch something firmly enough to deposit some skin cells or sweat on another surface.) In the Netherlands they use 3 kinds of contact: wearing, gripping, and touching.
Baez asked a lot of questions about DNA which would be on the sticky side of duct tape if it were put on a face. He asked his opinion if DNA could be found on the duct tape in this case. Eikelenboom said there would be DNA on it when it was ripped off.
Baez then went to the proper scenario of DNA on a piece of tape in which a person died. Eikelenboom said that even if there were bad conditions, it could be possible there could be some DNA using the PCR technology.
Baez then brought up the two partial profiles on Q-63 tape. He asked Eikelenboom if the tape were contaminated, could it mask smaller amounts of DNA. The answer was that it could never be ruled out.
Mr. Eikelenboom also has extracted DNA from maggots. If they fed on a person's blood, and it hasn't been digested, you could get a DNA profile for a person.
Chloroform is used in the extraction of DNA. Baez tried to get him to say that chloroform would not stop getting DNA.
Next was Jeff Ashton’s cross. He elicited the information that presently, Eikelenboom is working on his PhD in the University of Denver. His advisors are specialists in forensic DNA. His laboratory in Holland was started by he, his wife, and a co-worker from the National Lab. It is in a converted barn. In 2008, he and his wife decided to expand their business to the US because there is more work available here.
Ashton then pulled a Baez and mentioned that exposure in this case would help their business. He said that he is busy now, and doesn't need more cases. At the present, his lab is not open and he sends his work back to the Netherlands. Eikelenboom also said that he does work for free. He would expand more, but there aren't enough good DNA lab technicians. He also pointed out that there are other DNA labs that can do the work that he does. He feels that he has more experience than the other labs.
Ashton asked if what Mr. Eikelenboom does is only that he does more runs of DNA to make more copies than others to test. They test their samples the same as with other DNA tests, which he purchases in the US.
Eikelenboom said that one thing that is different about his testing is finding where a perpetrator actually touched the victim. They don't swab clothing, the take a cutting from a place where there was likely a touch and process the DNA from there.
Ashton asked if he could get DNA from a fruit fly. Eikelenboom said no.
Eikelenboom has not done any publications on environmental effects on DNA. He said that moisture and heat would be the worst thing for DNA, along witht he presence of bacteria.
Ashton went on to the duct tape. He asked if DNA ripped from a body would contain more live cells. On a person’s face, where it was not torn off, whose body is placed in a hot, swampy environment which is a trash dump, and sits for 6 months until the body is completely skeletonized. Eikelenboom said it would be a very bad condition for DNA. His question was it would be possible to have enough cells to test. Eikelenboom said that it would be very difficult to obtain a profile.
As for "masking" DNA, it would only mask DNA from the same loci. The only thing a 17 allele would mask would be a smaller 17 allele profile. Eikelenboom agreed. (Jeff Ashton does know his DNA!)
Ashton asked if Eikelenboom had asked to re-test the tape. He mentioned he could investigate this tape. Ashton then asked if other items were sent out for testing. He didn't know that.
Ashton was finished.
Next, Jose Baez re-directed the witness.
Baez started out bolstering his witness by discussing his international fame. We were then treated to some of his famous cases.
I pretty much gave up on the re-direct. It has nothing to do with this case, as no DNA was found. The only tests run were by the defense and no male DNA was found with PCR testing.
Baez asked Eikelenboom if he had ever found DNA on items which had been in the heat and damp.
Eikelenboom brought up a slide to explain. One sample came from a pair of panties that were 20 years old. One was a right hand of the victim which had been in the water for three weeks. The third was a jacket that had been lying in the water for three days. (None of them approached 6 months in the Florida heat.)
Baez brought out that Eikelenboom had been willing to do pro-bono work on this case, but was unable to do so because the prosecution objected. Ashton objected.
We had the first side bar for this testimony.
When it was over, we were treated to a recess until 3:20 PM.
Court resumed and Jose Baez was ready to continue with the witness. For some reason, Baez was talking about the number of loci needed for identification. It turned out he was talking about that 17 allele again. That was his last question.
Ashton was up next for re-cross. He mentioned the amount of DNA that would have been used in early tests. As the amount of DNA needed to be tested is less, there is more problems with contamination.
In this case, If he had tested the tape there would have been three possible results. He could have found nothing because the DNA could have deteriorated. He might have found Caylee's DNA on the tape. The third option was that he could have found unknown DNA on the duct tape and no way to know if it had anything to do with the crime, and could have resulted from decontamination.
Then Ashton asked for the slide with the three articles on which he found DNA. None of them had anything to do with fully skeletonized remains.
Ashton was finished.
Jose Baez then stepped up for re-re-direct. He asked if it mattered if the item had come from skeletonized remains. Eikelenboom said no. The condition of the item was more important.
Baez added a fourth scenario, that the duct tape was not wrapped around Caylee's mouth and he should have seen DNA. Eikelenboom said it could have had DNA, at least at first.
Ashton came up one last time and asked if the tape on the body which was decomposing would also mean the DNA on the duct tape would decompose as well. Eikelenboom said it was likely.
We then went up for another sidebar.
Mr. Eikelenboom was excused for the day!
The defense then called Yuri Melich to the stand. Baez started out asking about the search warrants he served on the Anthony home. The first search was in August, 2008. Baez asked if he found any papers having to do with chloroform. He didn't.
He found no containers or rags with chloroform on them. He found no products or receipts for chloroform. He didn't find any chemistry kits.
A second search warrant was served December 11, 2008. Baez asked the same questions and Melich had the same answers.
Baez then showed copies of the search warrants to see if there was any mention of chloroform. It was in the search warrant.
The third search warrant was served December 20, 2008. At that time, the scope of the search warrant had no mention of chloroform since that search was already done.
Throughout the entire investigation, there was no chloroform found in the home.
Linda Burdick did cross examination. She pointed out that on August 8, there was no report yet from Oak Ridge Labs about the chloroform. It was also pointed out that Ms. Anthony was out of jail after the first search and October 14, 2008.
Baez said Melich got the preliminary results in August and the computer results shortly after. The next search warrant was December 11, 2008, even though he could have served a search warrant at any time.
Baez asked if it wasn't significant, Melich said it wasn't a reason to get a search warrant. Also, in August, they were still looking for a live child.
Yuri Melich was excused subject to recall.
The next witness was Dr. Marcus Wise. He is a research scientist at Oak Ridge Labs and he is an analytical chemist.
He's been at Oak Ridge for 27 years, his entire professional career. At this time, he does not belong to any professional organizations. He is unable to say how many publications he has had, perhaps 15-20.
Baez asked him what a research scientist is. Wise also explained that a forensic scientist can also be a research scientist. Baez then had him explain what a research science lab does. He explained it much as Arpad Vass did.
Dr. Wise said that evidence samples are not as common as in a forensic lab. Then, Baez then went on to protocols in a research lab.
Ok, we know where he is going here. He's out to prove that research laboratories are not the same as forensic labs. Hello, junk science!
Wise pointed out that in a research laboratory, they are working with protocols as are deemed necessary by the project. There are methods that they use routinely and do not have to fill out reports. They do not have proficiency examinations for forensics samples. In terms of quality control, they are not running routine procedures. They do run blank standards to test for contamination.
Then, Baez tried to get Dr. Wise to say they have no quality control practices and procedures to prevent contamination before the test sample reaches the machine.
Wise asked," how do they get contaminated?" He also added that it is their job to expand the boundaries of science. He said that, as an analytical chemist, he is aware of contamination that can take place.
Dr. Wise was given items in this test to run GC/MS tests. He got the items from Dr. Vass' lab. Vass left a key for him to get in. He took the items to his lab to run the tests. Dr. Wise had no prior history of the items. He ran qualative analyses, not quantitative analyses. He was asked to run a qualatative analysis. The result showed a peak significantly above the base line. It showed the comparative values of the different compounds.
Wise said it would have been a meaningless number to quantify the amount. Chloroform is a volatile chemical which vaporizes quickly. If they had made a quantitative analysis, it would have only given the amount of chloroform on the tiny piece of carpet at a particular snapshot of time.
Which goes to explain the difference with Dr. Rickenbach's results when testing the solid remains.
Since the chloroform would have been evaporating, the original amount would have been considerably more than at the time of testing. Any quantitative amount would have been meaningless in terms of the trunk of the car. Based on the analysis, it appeared that the piece of carpet they tested was the point source of the chloroform.
The second test he did, he said they needed to establish where the constituants came from, they took the carpet and put it into a bag and injected some air into the bag and incubated it at 95 degrees F to simulate the Florida air. Again, the chloroform was the highest peak again.
Dr. Wise explained the use of standards and how they used them to verify that the tentatively compound matches are what they are.
Then, Baez started showing Dr. Wise his notes. He said the system blank was "reasonably" clean.
The trip blank had a high benzene peak. (In testing the triple sorbent trap.) It was from an air sample collected somewhere in the area. The significance was that benzene got into it. In another place, Wise placed *** to indicate he had to purge water off the trap, which is not an unusual occurrence.
At this point, Jeff Ashton asked for a side bar.
At this point, the judge gave a 7 minute "stretch" break, a very unusual move for Judge Perry so close to the end of the day! (Little did we know that the end of the day was far away!)
When Baez continued questioning Dr. Wise. He continued asking about the * next to his notes again. He then gave a full explanation as to why there was water there.
When he got done, Baez asked if he had another chemist check his work. Dr. Vass did and when Baez said Vass wasn't a chemist, Wise said he was a scientist with vast experience. Asked again, Wise said he is based his opinion on his on the job training.
Baez then asked if he had on the job training? Wise said he'd learned a great deal about his science and other sciences as he worked with others on projects.
Baez asked if he had anything negative to say about Dr. Vass. He didn't. Oh, and no, he didn't have another chemist check his work.
Baez then went back to Dr. Wise’s notes. He went through every thing that happened during the testing and what he had to do to make the test run smoothly, for example, when the trap froze.
I really admire Dr. Wise, he didn't let Baez rattle him in the least. Even when Baez told him that he'd caught himself in an error, he said he did! Of course, Baez took the opportunity to point out they didn't have protocol checklists.
This went on and on. Baez had to make sure that every time Dr. Wise had a problem, he called it a "mistake" and made it sound as though he was hapless in his work. Finally, he asked Wise if his GC/MS broke down. It turned out a loop on the front end was dirty and caused a problem.
We heard a few more times from Jose Baez that Dr. Vass is not a chemist and heard Dr. Wise say he was well qualified.
Baez then showed Dr. Wise a document he wrote which discussed the collection of soil samples. (We've heard this all before, there was no way to avoid collecting the air samples near gas, trash, etc. in this case in a car that had gasoline in it and had a trash bag in it at one time.)
We then had another side bar.
We heard again the questions about the area should be free of trash...
Jeff Ashton objected and the judge sustained because soil samples are not air samples.
Baez tried again. Wise pointed out that a sample is where it is and the air is part of the environment.
Baez kept asking about false positives for trash, debris, and chemicals. After many versions and sustained objections, Baez finally moved on.
He asked Wise if he was aware trash was found in the vehicle. Wise said he was. He was asked as to the location of the trash. Baez asked if he ask for a non-stained portion of the trunk sample. Wise said he didn't ask.
Baez was saying that they got a stained carpet and shouldn't they have asked for a non-stained sample. Wise said, for the umpteenth time, that he didn't ask for the samples!
Baez asked if he was a co-author of the report. Apparently, Baez felt it important that he admit the carpet sample was from a junk yard. Wise said he wasn’t sure. Then, after more questioning, he said he might have known.
Then, Baez said that he had essentially llied in the report he co-authored!
Baez then said he had made an addition to the report. Wise said that he added that the chemicals found could be associated with other types of materials.
Baez asked if he knew that air samples were taken 6 weeks after the carpet samples. They were samples from the forensic bay, trash, etc.
Baez asked if the air would have been different six weeks later. Wise said he had no idea. He wouldn't know how the air had changed over a period of time. He gave the same answer for the trash.
Baez tried to get Wise's notes admitted into evidence, but Ashton objected that they had been annotated and marked by the defense.
Jeff Ashton began his cross examination. He asked if he worked with Dr. Vass in his decomposition work. He said he collected air samples
Ashton also reinforced that chloroform was the major peak. They also saw gasoline, but the chloroform peak was greater. Wise said he'd collected many samples from around cars and never found that amount of chloroform. The relative abundance of the chloroform seemed unusual to him because it is a carcinogen. You would not expect to find it in the trunk of a vehicle. However, he couldn't say where it came from. Wise said that the level of chloroform was high, but he didn't want to quantify it. When he ran the concentrated sample, the chloroform peak was similar.
Ashton asked if he did research as to where it could have come from. He and Dr. Vass spent an evening contemplating why it was there. He checked into such items as brake cleaners and other products and found no answer among common products.
Scientifically, I ran out of energy when the discussion ran to polymers and the attraction of chloroform! What I did understand that the little piece of carpet was only one piece of a puzzle as to how much chloroform was in the car.
Ashton brought out that the amount of chloroform could only be less than what was in the carpet originally. He also asked if he ran his trip blanks from the air in his room. Wise said he did, to know what was in the air in his room.
In essense, he writes protocols for other people doing experiments.
There was nothing in his testing that was out of order. He likened it to running a car, that you know when something isn't running right.
As for the samples taken 6 weeks later, it was the best he could get.
Wise said that he had worked with Dr. Vass for 12-13 years. The National Lab is a place where scientists work together to broaden their knowledge. He's helped him in many of his studies. He said Vass always wants to work and learn from him and other people in the laboratory.
Jose Baez said he had a brief re-direct (he lied). Baez managed to bring up the Labrador again. Wise pointed out that it is not patented yet. So, of course, he asked if he would get money from it. Wise said it would only provide a minimal amount of money when sold to non-government users.
Baez then asked if he billed the tests to the Labrador project.
Wise took it to mean "build"!
He said he wasn't sure. He said that it was very likely since it related to the project.
Baez then brought up how they get grants for the lab. It is part of their job to get grants in part to keep their jobs.
When asked about the amount of publicity the case was giving to the Labrador, Wise told him that nobody is going to go out and buy something because they heard about it in a court of law. The machine needs its own validation and testing, and nothing in this case would do that. There was no relationship between the Labrador and this case.
Baez asked if this was the first carpet sample he ever tested. Wise couldn't remember.
There were more derogatory questions asked and I couldn’t begin to keep up with all of them. (This was so distasteful and I wondered what the jury thought of them. Dr. Wise was, as his friend and colleague Dr. Vass, amenable to answering questions, but there is a limit of how many times one lawyer can demean a witness and have the jury buy what the defense is trying to prove.)
Jeff Ashton got up and pointed out that this device was designed for the military. If so, he would not get any royalties. Wise agreed.
Mr. Baez HAD to have one more question.
According to Wise, the US Government would not pay any royalties. He wasn't sure if it was sold to law enforcement or to the states, he would get any royalties.
With a final objection by Mr. Ashton, Baez was finished.
Judge Perry dismissed the jury and court was adjourned until 9:00 tomorrow. He also reminded the lawyers to be in court at 8:20 if they have any issues to discuss.
It was a long day, with court ending at 6:00. Let's hope Baez keeps up the pace so we don't have too many days like today!
See you tomorrow in court!