Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stephanie Lazarus Trial: Day 5, Part II

Donald Barona, who worked for the Los Angeles Police and Revolver Athletic Club, 2-17-2012 © Thomas Broersma

Updated 9/23/12: Correcting Flowers to Francis

Unedited, draft entry below. Our Internet is down at home currently. I will try to get the corrections to this entry done over lunch. Sprocket

February 10th, 2012
It’s 8:35 AM. There’s hearing for another case going on at the moment. Terri Keith from City News is here. I take a few notes on the other case pretrial hearing but I’m not following it much. Eric Harmon is the prosecutor, and he’s trying to get Judge Perry to prevent the defense attorney from sharing some information with one of his clients to protect the safety of a witness.

The woman who is sitting at the detectives table with Jaramillo and Stearns behind the prosecutors is wearing a beautiful gray dress and matching jacket today. She’s wearing glasses and pearl earrings and her hair is coiled in a tight bun. I can easily imagine her walking onto the set of one of the Law & Order episodes. With her Latin features and flawless skin, she looks strikingly gorgeous today. I don’t know her name, but I believe I’ve overheard her addressed as “DDA Alarcon” (sp?) at one point during the trial.

9:05 AM Overland arrives with Courtney. I overhear that Mr. Later will help Mark Overland in the afternoon. Lazarus comes out of the jail area with big smiles to her family. We’re on the record.

Judge Perry informs counsel that when Alternate #1 arrived at court he told the clerk about a school function he went to (last night?), and there was a potential juror there, a teacher at his children’s school who was dismissed because she knew a Melissa Popovich. He didn’t realize that this person is the volleyball coach of the volleyball team that his daughter plays on.

He does have some knowledge of this witness and realized it just last night. He now apparently knows a witness. I believe the alternate at this time is called into the jury box.

There was an open house (at the school?). Ms. Popovich is his daughter’s volleyball coach, just during volleyball season (which is over).

Judge Perry asks, “it is unlikely you will have contact with her outside of that?” (I believe the juror confirms that.)

ALT #1: Melissa, her last name, I didn’t know that prior to last night. (snip) I can judge the case fairly.

Presby has no comment. Either Judge Perry or Overland states: “I’m very comfortable with the alternate remaining on the case.” (I believe it’s Judge Perry.)

Judge Perry and counsel talk about completing the direct of Francis up to her 2005 investigation analysis. I note the jurors are mostly very casually dressed. Judge Perry tells them to not come to court on Monday. The jurors ask Judge Perry if they can stand and stretch while they are at sidebar.

JP: Certainly. Don’t do push-ups. We try to make jury service comfortable.

#21 JENNIFER FRANCIS is back on the stand, under direct.

She tested stains on the dishtowel, a fingernail, the ignition (key) red stain from the key. She analyzed a blood swatch from Ms. Rasmussen. There were incomplete profiles on the fingernail and keys. Items #9 & 20, were partial profiles. There was not enough quantity or due to degradation.

PN: Was there any DNA foreign to (the victim?)? (snip) If there was a mixture you....(?)?

JF: If there was a high enough mixture (she could have detected a second profile) but I detected single sources for the profile.

There’s a somewhat full courtroom today.

She retrieved additional evidence, a bite mark swab. This item was given a property # by LAPD, #30. Photos of the envelope are up on the overhead where Francis identifies the LAPD packaging, the evidence tag, the DR #, and her initials on the package.

Francis states that the photos of the envelope were take about a month before the preliminary hearing in December 2009. When she opened the coroner’s envelope, she found a second envelope by the coroner’s office. She is asked about the condition of the (second) envelope.

She pulled the cap out of the hole and she folded back a flap from the hole to pull the red item out. It was a tube.

JF: I had to dig in to pull it out. (snip) (?)...a tear across (where?) the cap (was?), doubling the size (of the hole). This hole there, the flap is probably from me.

JP: Indicating the large section of the envelope, left side of the hole.

JF: This majority is probably me. (Of the hole.)

She is asked about the bottom of the envelope (the back side photo) where it appears the bottom part had come undone.

JF: No. I would have mentioned ... (snip) I referred to it as ratty and torn because I would have made a note of that.

When she returned the tube to the package, she put it back through the hole, pushed it in. (So she could have created the opening in the bottom.)

There are photos that she took of the tube. She wrote on part of the label her initials and date. Those photos she took accurately reflect the condition of the tube (and swabs inside), with the exception of the cutting she took in 2005.

In 2005, Francis states the cap was screwed on. It was screwed together.

PN: No cracks?

JF: Not that I had noted.

When she opened the tube for analysis, the sticks were attached to the inside of the cap. She doesn’t have independent memory of her work on this case. She recounts her general practice of preparing evidence for testing.

She would cut one-half of the cotton tip off of a swab stick. In 2005, after she did an extraction, she first would look to see if she can see nucleated epithelial cells. These are basically skin cells. They are found in large quantities in the mouth, vagina. She observed a large quantity of cells. She then proceeded to DNA typing.

She developed the profile. There was an indication of more than one individual. She got a complete major profile and got an incomplete minor profile.

People’s #145 is the DNA profile of property item 30, the bite mark swab. The gender of the major profile was female. There is also a minor profile right under the major profile. In 2005, CoFiler® profile measured 13 alleles plus the gender.

Nunez asks a hypothetical question regarding a saliva source verses a skin cell source. Francis states that would not be unusual to pick up some semblance from the body.

The profile in the white boxes in People’s #145, the contributor was from a minor source. The contribution was on a very low level. If the amount of DNA doesn’t reach a particular threshold (set by the parameters of the program) the analysis will cut it off and it will not appear on the graph report.

Skin cells are epithelial cells. Mucus membranes cells have a nucleus. Swabbing a dry clean arm doesn’t give you nucleated cells in large quantities. You could find some if there is sweat, or transfer (from something else).

People’s #146 is the profile of the reference sample DNA.

PN: Did the minor profile (match/ come from ) Sherri Rasmussen?

JF: Ms. Rasmussen has DNA alleles consistent with what I (cont? considered?) as a minor source.

She compared the DNA profile from property item #24 (Rasmussen blood swatch made by the coroner’s office) to property item #30. It matched at a few allele locations.

JF: The major profile did not come from Sherri Rasmussen.

PN: Did the major contributor match?

JF: Not when taken as a whole, no.

Now Francis’ testimony is interrupted to take other witnesses who were scheduled.

#22 MARIA TOMES, LAPD; assigned to Robbery/Homicide in 2009. Officer for 25 years. (Unfortunately, my notes do not have who presented the witness, but I believe it’s DDA Presby.)

On June 5th, 2009 she was present in an interview room when DNA was taken from an individual.

People: Is the individual that DNA was taken from in court today?

MT: (Yes.) She’s wearing a black sweater with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and bangs.

People’s #147 two photos. A photo from the interview and People’s #148, Lazars’ booking photo. I’m reminded of a “deer-in-the-headlights” seeing her booking photo. It’s not a flattering photo. The witness states both photos were taken on the day the oral swab was taken.

People: Did a criminalist respond to (the location?)?

MT: Nand Hart Nibbrig.

Tomes saw the criminalist put on protective clothing, a mask and then provided two oral swabs to the defendant. He handed Lazarus the swabs and she rolled them around in her mouth. Two individual swabs. Observed the criminalist give her a second swab. He then placed the swabs in packaging.

Direct ends and cross begins.

MO: Did you see him also collect a hair sample?

MT: (Yes.) He laid out a piece of (butcher) paper, handed her a comb to comb her hair until her hair fell on the paper. Then he folded up the paper and packaged it.

I think there were one or two more questions and then the witness is finished.

#23 NAND HART NIBBRIG: Criminalist for LAPD, SID. Employed with SID for fifteen years. Worked in toxicology, trace, and alcohol and field investigations. (My notes don’t have who presents the witness.)

On June 5th, 2009 he responded to an interview room at Parker Center.

The DR # associated with this case is: 86-09-10480. He collected oral swabs (from the defendant). The witness identifies the defendant. He knew her name, Stephanie Lazarus. Hart Nibbrig states he double gloved latex gloves and adorned a mask.

NHN: I asked her to swab her inner own cheek lining.

There were two individual swoobs (swoop?) he gave the defendant to swab with.

Photos of the coin envelopes that contained the swabs of her collected DNA are entered into evidence. He returned to SID lab to process the evidence. He first booked the items into evidence. He met Jennifer Francis and Mr. Yamauchi at the evidence/booking desk.

Evidence item #51 was booked into evidence. “Buccal swab” refers to the mouth cavity. He kept the items in his custody until he delivered them to the evidence room.

Direct ends and cross begins.

The two buccal swab envelopes were placed in a single envelope, one that didn’t have any tears or holes.

MO: On the second floor of Parker Center, was she handcuffed? (snip) How many (other people) were there?

People: Objection! Relevance!

JP: Sustained!

In collecting the hair samples, he remembers he agitated the scalp then pulled and tugged at hairs at various locations on the head. He then folded up the paper and delivered the hairs to evidence collection on a different date. There was urgency to process the DNA on the swab.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

He drove from Parker Center to the crime lab. The time it took from Parker Center to book the evidence was one hour and ten minutes.

People: Not 20 years?

NHN: Correct.

The witness is finished.

#24 MICHAEL MASTROCOVO: acting supervising criminalist in LAPD crime lab. His duties (now) are more administrative type. Prior, he was an analyst for 12 years. My notes do not have who presented the witness but it’s a good bet it was DDA Nunez.

Mastrocovo presents his CV.

On May 28th, 2009 he received an item #7, two soda cups with plastic straws and caps. He labeled the items 7a and 7b. He obtained these items from the secured property room at the lab.

He used a sterile swab for each straw. He swabbed the upper 2 inches of the straw. He obtained partial profiles on both 7a and 7b.

While the direct examination is going on, Overland almost stumbles going over to Judge Perry’s clerk, Melody’s desk. The bailiff helps him.

People’s #151 is the profile for the first cup, 7a.

Mastrocovo used “IdentiFiler” kit with 15 locus/allele points. The prior tests that were used tested 13 locations (the same 13 that the kit with 15 locations tests).

Mastrocovo did not obtain a complete profile at all 15 locations. He obtained a profile at 13 locations, two locations the information was insufficient. The gender of the profile of 7a was female.
Mastrocovo obtained a separate and (distinct?) different profile for cup 7b that was from a different person.

The results of profile 7a were compared to property item #30.

People: In your opinion, did the profile for 7a match (property item 30)?

MM: It did at 11 of 13 locations.

Mastrocovo explains why the analysis did not get information at two of the markers. The amount of DNA at those points was under the threshold required by the program or there was no data.

People: Did you also compare 7b to item #30?

MM: They did not share a common source.

People: Did you know this analysis involved surreptitious (DNA) collection?

MM: (Yes.)

Mastrocovo was asked to give a percentage analysis on the match. He explains why that is not done.

MM: The fact that these are two items of evidence, it’s not venus blood, so we don’t give statistic numbers. (Also) because it’s not from a known source (the cup and straw).

The morning break is called. When it’s over direct is finished and cross begins.

Overland asks some questions about generating a DNA profile.

A profile is a result of certain tests on chromosomes. It’s a numeric representation of specific repeats (tandem repeats) at a location on the chromosomes.

Overland asks him about comparison studies of one manufacturer’s test kits to another giving different results. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the witness’ answer, however, I believe he is not familiar with this study.)

Overland asks about the importance of “primers”. They flag the portions of the (chromosome) to be identified. They show the components of the “kit” where to start copying.

When DNA testing is done, they look at the parts of the chromosome that is different from person to person.

Primers are proprietary to the kit manufacturer. They are not shared. Mastrocovo doesn’t know if they are patented.

Defense X1 and X2. Overland goes over the actual report kicked out by the computer program. It looks like a graph.

MO: Is there any significance to the height of the peaks?

MM: (I) Don’t know what you are asking.

The computer produces those numbers.

MO: So far, you didn’t do anything?

MM: Well, I wouldn’t say I didn’t do anything.

The computer generates numbers on an Electropherogram.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electropherogram

“Gene Mapper” http://marketing.appliedbiosystems.com/mk/get/GENEMAPPER_IDX_MLANDING?isource=fr_AB_SSR_IDX_0807 (a computer program) gives us these numbers.

The allele type is a DNA type, and the number is the number of repeats of that allele.

Relative Fluorescent Units. This is the amount of signal that the instrument saw. The lower number on the Electropherogram tells you the height of the signal detected by the instrument.

A smaller peak (on the graph) means there was not as much material detected via the fluorescent light source.

MO: Do you have to do anything else?

MM: Yes. I compare the DNA profiles.

MO: (Is it a) visual comparison?

MM: Yes.

MO: Do you use the numbers that are in the top and compare those to the sample...if some kind of sample? (snip) Do you know how the software measures the height of the peaks?

MM: Yes.

MO: Do you know how if....

MM: There are sizing bins for the numbers. (snip) It’s not 5% it’s .5 base pairs. (snip) A repeat is four base pairs.

Overland wants to make it clear that they are talking about tiny, tiny quantities.

MO: How exact is it? (snip) When the software says there are fourteen repeats there, does the program come back.... (?)

MM: I don’t think what you’re saying applies to this.

The expert witness can’t answer “percentage” questions because it doesn’t apply.

The tests can have two purposes. One to include, one to exclude. To exclude the analysts look at each locus.

MM: You can’t look at one locus (allele) in a vacuum. You have to look at the whole picture.

I watched DDA Nunez watch Overland during the cross. To me, Nunez had this perplexed expression on his face for most of the questioning.

Overland is finished and there’s no redirect.

The morning break is over.

I have a feeling the mainstream press in the room is groaning internally having to listen to TWO DNA experts in one day. However, Matthew McGough and I love this DNA stuff. I always learn something. Each time a DNA expert testifies, I understand more of the process on how the scientists analyze and evaluate the information generated from DNA testing.

(Sprocket’s simple primer; and I mean “simple”.)

Basically, DNA testing and comparison is an accepted scientific process, recognized in every court in the US. The methods are tried, true and accepted. One thing to keep in mind with DNA testing is, degradation and contamination will not turn a DNA sample tested into someone else’s DNA. What you will get in those instances is less information, not completely different information.

All DNA from a person, whether collected via saliva, sperm, urine, blood will be the same. Analysts look at 15 different spots on chromosomes where they know our information will be different from each other. First, the DNA is extracted from the collected item and purified. Then they determine how much material is there, whether it’s weak or concentrated. Then the PCR comes into play where the DNA testing kits use a “primer” to mark the alleles (loci) and make lots of copies of those specifically marked alleles. After that, the material is passed under a special fluorescent light source and the “box cars”, the number of repeats occurring for that allele is read. Passing under the light source, gives the program the strength of the signal from the DNA, (the large number on the Electrophermogram) and the number or “tandem repeats” (the small number on the graph) of the box cars. The number of repeats represent the number of copies of that allele/locus. The specific number of tandem repeats at fifteen different locus/allele locations makes up a “complete” DNA profile. Sprocket.)

#21 JENNIFER FRANCIS is recalled; back under direct.

In 2005, once she obtained a major profile for item #30 (the bite mark swab) she compared it with Sherri Rasmussen. She didn’t have another sample to compare it to. She input the profile into a special system, CODIS.

CODIS is a series of linked databases used by the FBI to search against known criminal data bases and arrested data bases.

If there is a hit, it’s a match, with an offender or arrestee, the SID lab has a computer system that is tied into CODIS.

PN: Would (the result of a hit) come via the computer system from the FBI?

J: Now days, they use a new system that includes E-mail notification.

The profile of item #30, bite mark swab. Of the major donor, only 13 different locations were detected. Of the minor donor, 4 loci (locus/locations) and the gender marker were detected.

On item #20, the keys, she obtained a DNA profile for nine different loci/locations. Some locations matched Sherri Rasmussen.

The bite mark swab profile was ran through CODIS in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Notification would only occur if there was a match.

She didn’t do anything with the cups from COSTCO.

In 2007 she took another cutting from the dish towel and got a match to Sherri Rasmussen’s blood. Other items from the crime scene matched Rasmussen. Items #9 and #20, she got incomplete profiles. She could not “exclude” Rasmussen as a donor to those samples.

A decision was made not to test the remaining evidence. She stopped her analysis and did not get any other foreign profiles. On the second cut of the towel, she got a full profile of Rasmussen and wrote a separate report on June 6th, 2009.

She analyzed another item from DR 09-10480, item #51. She obtained the item from the LAPD property division. It was an oral swab collected from an individual named Stephanie Lazarus. Francis’ name at the time was Jennifer Butterworth.

She opened one envelope and noted one swab inside. The swab was inside a plastic cap.

PN: A different type of swab than item #30?

JF: Yes. (snip) It was a clear round cap where he swab was pulled through it. (snip) In our department (LAPD SID) we provide one-swab tubes.

She took a portion of the swab and performed DNA typing. She obtained a full profile for Stephanie Lazarus. She used a DNA kit from IdentiFiler. It’s one tube that creates a reaction with added genetic markers. She compared this profile to the profile for item #30, that just had 13 markers.

Lazarus’ profile had 15 loci. (Originally, they had 13 markers for her via the cup and straw from COSTCO).

In comparing the bite mark swab profile to Lazarus’ complete profile, the random chance is one in 402.1 quadrillion individuals.

PN: And (compared to) the population of earth?

JF: That’s 100 million earths.

She returned the item she tested to the LAPD property division. Item #8, the white cord and mass of speaker wire she physically analyzed. She tested various area of the white cord with the phenol test for blood. She also did DNA testing on the white cord. At some spots she got no DNA. Some areas came up a partial DNA and some areas a full DNA profile. The full profile matched DNA of Sherri Rasmussen. In the partial profiles, they were consistent with alleles that the victim had in her DNA profile.

PN: Were you able to exclude the defendant from DNA in #8??

JF: Yes.

PN: Did that conclude your DNA analysis?

JF: Yes.

The morning session is over and the lunch break is called.

I get a phonetic pronunciation from Matthew for Detective Jaramillo. It’s HARA - MEE -OH.

1:30 PM, back inside the courtroom, Overland is getting his papers together to prepare for cross.

Nunez stands in the well leaning against the jury box, his arms crossed over his chest.

Cross begins.

Overland starts off by asking her what conversations she had with investigators or prosecutors.

JF: Since, what time period?

MO: In preparation for today.

JF: I can’t give you an exact number. About a handful.

Between five and ten (interviews).

JF: They were either over the phone , on our lab (at the Science Center) r the DA’s office.

MO: How long a period of time?

JF: I don’t recall the exact... (snip) In person, about an hour. Over the phone about ten minutes.

MO: When was the last time (you spoke with them)?

JF: Today, at lunch.

MO: (And) the last time, before your testimony yesterday?

JF: I may have met (them) at lunch yesterday.

MO: Who was present.

Judge Perry interjects.

JP: Do you remember who was present at each and every one?

JF: I have a general description but not each and every one.

I believe Overland asks her about DDA Alarcon.

MO: At any of these (meetings) were you asked about the tear i the envelope?

JF: I recall some general conversations about the tear.

MO: How was the tear in the envelope brought up? (snip) You say that the issue was brought up by numerous people?

JF: I think it was discussed several times (in a group of phone conversations). I don’t know who I said what to, when.

MO: Do you recall if anyone said that was a problem (miss rest)...

JF: (?).... and that possibly you might make an issue out of it.

MO: There was a tear in it and someone might make an issue of it? (snip) Was that all that was said? (snip) What was discussed about the tear?

PN: Objection! Asked and answered!

JP: I think so. Asked and answered. Move on. Sustained.

MO: (I’m) try(ing?) to question you on this. That you could see that tear, then (you) said, “The majority of the flap was probably from me.”

JF: I believe that. (snip) I remember trying to gently pull the tube out.

Francis makes some comment about possibly being the “last” person who was “in” this envelope.

Overland asks her about a prior statement, and to look through it to see if there’s anything in it about her making the tear bigger.

JF: No.

She made a note that it was ratty an torn.

JF: I remember the packaging and the red plastic cap.

MO: Do you remember anything else as a part..... (?)

JF: I remember seeing washed out writing. It was the reason I didn’t want to cut something that might need to be read later.

MO: When is the first time you ever told (someone about her possibly making the hole bigger)?

JF: I told the prosecutor within the last few weeks. It would have been a general conversation. I may have made it bigger. I believe I may have. (snip) I’m not 100% sure.

MO: The first time you’ve told anyone was a few weeks ago?

JF. I believe so, yes.

She started working at the lab in 1999. She describes the serology unit in April 2001. There are proficiency tests, pre-made tests, but no “grade” is given.

MO: Checking up on whether you do a good job or not?

JF: Whether you are accurate or not.

An outside audit of the lab is done every two years. She does not get results of those audits. Believes there is an internal audit every year. These reports are available if she wanted to look at them, but they are not handed out to every single person.

Overland shows her defense exhibit Y and asks her if it represents a DNA chain.

JF: Part of one, yes. It’s a helix partial

He asks her what that means, what a base pair means. She explains the four DNA bases that are represented by A, T, C, G. DNA is a very long molecule inside a chromosome inside of a nucleus.

DNA testing looks at 15 different locations on different chromosomes. Every nucleus has 23 pairs. 99% of DNA is shared. There are differences in our DNA that don’t necessarily have a known function. Those are of interest to analysts.

The sections that are tested are the ones that have repeating box cars and are agreed upon by the FBI. Testing kits are pre-determined. The lab used to use a kit from ABI Bio Systems. They’ve changed now to a different company’s commercial kits.

MO: Are you aware of studies where.....

JF: I am aware of a mutation in the binding where one instance it showed a different (in one location).

I note that, to me, the witness is coming off as impatient. It could be because she is not feeling well.

There are over three billion base pairs in a nucleus.

99% of DNA is the same in most humans.

MO: Because if we look at others (?), we’re going to get the same result?

JF: Basically yes. In forensics, we’re looking for differences.

Overland asks where on the DNA molecule they look.

JF: We know where they are (the differences?). It’s the number of repeats at specific locations.

Overland asks her about the test she conducted called a PCR-RLFP test, which is a molecular Xeroxing step. PCR is the copying process. The copying is within the computer program. Hundreds of millions of copies. They analyze the copies, not the original. There is a potential for contamination when (the DNA) is amplified.

Francis outlines the different controls that they run on a sample. Once the sample is exposed to PCR, the sample never leaves the DNA room.

JF: We do look for contamination in every step of the process.

(I remember my tour of the crime lab. I still have my notes, and will write up about the experience some day. The DNA lab is one of the few areas where the LA Co. Sheriff’s and the LAPD share space, the machines. Unfortunately, it is one of the places where Mr. Sprocket and I were shown around by someone who could not authorize me to take photographs.)

DNA can be used to exclude or include. In terms of excluding it’s a comparison. They look at the DNA profile to see if an individual is the same or included in a mixture or if there’s not enough information to make a conclusion either way.

An allele refers to a (general? location?) of a gene. The analysis looks at a profile as a whole.

There are more detailed questions about the process of DNA analysis. I look on over at the jurors. I don’t see any of the jurors taking notes so I put my notepad down to rest a bit.

At 2:35 PM we take the afternoon break. At 2:50 PM the cross resumes.

MO: Do you remember when you first got involved (in the case)?

JF: I believe the fall of 2004?

MO: As far as the time frame?

JF: I know I started the work in 2004.

She’s asked when she physically took control of the DNA typing.

Overland shows her Defense Z, an E-mail dated October 24th, 2004. She vaguely remembers. She has a vague recollection of the time frame before she started the analysis.

JF: I remember planning on doing the case when I got signed off for DNA.

Her co-worker (who had the case first) was Nick Sanchez (sp?). He was deciding on which cases to work on and he hadn’t started on the case yet. She had received documents from the murder book (at LAPD). She believes there was a large report, printed on a dot matrix printer, (a) summary of the crime scene and property reports. That’s generally what she recalls.

Overland hands her defense exhibit AA and asks her if that helps her to remember specific dates.

JF: There was a Post-It attached to documents (Shepherd? sp?) had given me.

MO: The Post-It referenced.....?

JF: I recall there was a notation on a document, “where was the bite mark”. (snip) But as far as who asked first, I don’t recall that.

Shepherd= Cliff Shepherd, LAPD.

MO: (He?) responded to an E-mail you sent to him. (snip) Does that help tell you how the process began? October 21st?

JF: Based on this E-mail, yes.

MO: It was either he that asked or he brought it up?

JF: According to my E-mail, if he could check with the coroner’s office if they had the evidence on October 21st, 2004.

There was a follow up E-mail sent November 1st. Overland asks if that helps he to remember.

JF: I don’t have an independent memory, but based on my E-mail, I did.

MO: Did you get a response?

JF: I don’t know if he responded but I started to call.

MO: Eventually you did get the bite mark swab?

JF: Correct.

Defense DD is shown to the witness.

JF: Yes. This is a tube with my writing on the label. (snip) There’s a swab, I see one stick here.

She found the tube in an envelope labeled Rasmussen, Sherri.

MO: Is that the date you analyzed (it?)?

JF: That’s the date I cut it. (Cut the tip of the swab). (snip) I don’t know what date I checked the evidence out.

That date (on the photo) is the date she cut the evidence out.

MO: Did you take that photo?

JF: No.

MO: Do you know who did?

JF: No.

Overland zooms in on a close-up of the swab. There appears to be writing on the wooden stick inside the tube. Overland asks her to read what’s on the stick.

JF: It could be a C and a T or a plus?

MO: Did you put those markings on the stick? (snip) Do you (recall?) writings or markings (on the stick)?

JF: I don’t know when that photo was taken. (snip) I recall the label because that’s my writing. (snip) The tube that I pulled out had a label. I wrote on that label.

Overland asks her more questions about the label.

MO: Did you on January 27th, 2005... (snip) Before you pulled out the tube, did you put any labels on any other tubes?

JF: Not with that notation, no.

MO: Lets go back to the tests you conducted, the three steps before amplification.

JF: There are two steps before amplification.

MO: That PCR process, that allows you in analyzing an item of DNA, that is smaller than a grain of sugar (originally?)

JF: Yes.

I note that Overland’s hands have a tiny shake or tremble at the podium. The jury is looking at the overhead screen. It’s my opinion that some of them appear bored.

Now Overland is asking her the same questions he asked of Mastrocovo, so I put my notepad down again.

Overland is now asking if there are “always” two allele’s in a location.

JF: On rare occasions, there is the rare individual with a tri-allele (three alleles instead of the standard two) pattern. (three)

Generally speaking, people have one or two alleles at a single location (on the gene).

I start to nod off.

Overland is now asking about peaks and low peaks (I think on the Electrophermogram.)

Francis gave an opinion based on the principles of statistics and population genetics. She is not an expert in population genetics, with respect to anything beyond this subject. She used the software program that was provided by the FBI to calculate statistics.

MO: Do you know the data used?

JF: Generally, yes.

Overland asks her more about the statistical analysis and how the percentages are obtained.

MO: One person at random selected from the population, an unrelated individual would have the odds of.... (?)

JF: Odds implies a prior expectation. (snip) (We use the word) chance. Chance (means?) random.

Odds implies there’s an outcome based on prior events. Chance is just a chance.

MO: (If a) larger data base (is used) larger statistical out(come?)?

JF: Up to a point, yes. (snip) My understanding from studies I’ve read, (there are a) couple hundred per ethnic group or sub group (snip) to see how frequently the alleles showed up.

Overland asks her how many.

JF: I’d have to look at (the) article again.

Overland asks her if she knows how many groups, sub groups. She doesn’t know. Overland now shifts back to her analysis.

At 3:45 PM, Judge Perry sends the jury home. Counsel talks about whether or not to still have the Thursday off. Judge Perry states he would like to have the hearing Thursday afternoon (on the third party culpability) evidence. Something is said by someone about not submitting on the entire 52 page report (Mayer’s report). There’s more on what documents will be used for Judge Perry’s ruling and that’s it. Court is adjourned.


Becky said...

To me it seems like this case is going to come down to whether or not the jury understands the accuracy of DNA and whether they trust the tube and envelope where the DNA was kept. I'm curious, Sprocket--in your opinion, do you think the prosecution has met the burden of satisfying Overland's doubts about both? Or do you think Overland was successful in confusing/discrediting these experts? From reading all of your accounts, it seems to me that even despite the tear in the envelope, the evidence is trustworthy.

Sprocket said...

I will not give my opinion on what I believe the evidence proves.

I will not speculate on what the jury might decide.

We still haven't heard the defense case yet. Don't you want to hear what Overland presents to the jury?

Anonymous said...

How long do you think the case will last?

Sprocket said...

I do not know how long the defense case will be nor if there will be a rebuttal case.

The general estimate by counsel before trial was five to six weeks, but that was a generous estimate to tell the jurors what to plan for.