A young couple reportedly partied at a bar after allegedly murdering a 19-year-old girl, then argued about how to dispose of her corpse in text and Facebook messages!
The prosecution at Casey Anthony’s murder trial called one of its first forensic expert witnesses on Saturday, an FBI lab technician who testified that a hair found in Anthony’s trunk had characteristics absolutely consistent with coming from a dead body.
However, defense attorney Jose Baez may have succeeded in casting doubt on the significance of her conclusions, which involved post-mortem hair banding, a form of analysis never before used as evidence in a Florida courtroom.
Testimony by FBI trace evidence examiner Karen Korsberg Lowe was one of the many elements of the state’s case that the defense objected to in hearings earlier this year, but as with much of the other evidence they challenged, Judge Belvin Perry had ruled that it should be left to the jury to decide how credible it is.
After brief voir dire to qualify her as an expert, prosecutor Jeff Ashton had Lowe explain to the jury what banding is and how the roots of hairs can be used to identify the characteristics of apparent decomposition. In particular, Lowe testified about one hair found in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car that showed darkening consistent with post-mortem root banding.
Lowe also tested hair from a brush used by Caylee Anthony and hair from Casey Anthony. She was able to conclude that the hair showing decomposition was dissimilar to Casey’s but showed similarities to Caylee’s. However, she was not able to make a more definitive identification of the hair from the trunk.
Nancy Grace producer in the courtroom Natisha Lance observed that the jury seemed very interested in Lowe’s testimony and that Baez was taking a lot of notes while Ashton questioned her.
On cross examination, Baez attacked Lowe’s credibility, noting a proficiency exam she failed 11 years ago, and the reliability of hair banding as evidence in general. Lowe acknowledged that she does not know what causes post-mortem banding and that it does not appear in every decomposing body.
Lowe testified that the one hair discussed in her direct examination was the only one of the many tested in this case that showed signs of decomposition. She also agreed that she cannot state definitively that it came from a dead body, just that it appears to be based on the characteristics present.
Baez noted that a photo of a hair that Lowe showed the jury while explaining her findings was not actually the one she tested. She also acknowledged that the hair may have gotten into the trunk through secondary transference from some other source.
Saturday’s second witness was the assistant supervisor of the crime scene investigation unit of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Mike Vincent. Vincent identified numerous air and carpet he collected from Anthony’s car, including an area of the trunk that appeared to be stained. He had also obtained DNA samples from George, Cindy and Lee Anthony.
When questioned by Baez, however, Vincent stated that this was the first time he ever collected air samples and he had no training for it. Baez also pointed out that some of the samples were taken in July while others were not obtained until late August, and Vincent agreed that some of the samples would not necessarily be representative of what the air in the car was like on July 16, 2008.
Testimony resumes Monday at 9 am.
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