Evidence gathering focus at Garcia trial
An OPD detective and crime lab technician took the stand Tuesday morning in the murder trial of Anthony Garcia.
Garcia is charged with killing Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman in 2008 and Roger and Mary Brumback in 2013. Brenda Beadle from the Douglas County Attorney's Office said Garcia sought revenge after he was fired from the Creighton University Medical Center Pathology Department by Dr. Roger Brumback and Thomas' father, Dr. William Hunter. Garcia lawyer Bob Motta Sr. said Garcia is innocent; the evidence circumstantial.
Detective Derek Mois said he was present at the the autopsies of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman as photographs of the knives removed from the victims were shown.was removed from Thomas' neck.
During cross examination, Garcia's attorney Jeremy Jorgenson asked if Mois was familiar with the Joy Blanchard homicide? Mois said he was not. Asked if there had been a connection made he would not have been aware. "Correct," answered Mois.
Jorgenson asked about the status of the back door, if it was unlocked and open. Mois said, "Yes," and that uniformed officers searched the house for victims and suspects.
Jorgenson asked if it was a fair conclusion that Sherman was the first to be killed, then the boy. Mois could not say definitively, but that is the theory.
Jorgenson said footprints were found outside and asked if casts were made? Mois responded yes. Jorgenson noted that unidentifiable, latent fingerprints were discovered at the scene. "Correct," said Mois. Jorgenson asked if the fingerprints were identified. Mois said some were family, some belonged to Sherman. Mois said there was no evidence of a struggle.
Beadle asked if it has always been his theory there was only one suspect? "Correct," said Moss.
Retired OPD crime lab technician Jerry Tosoni was next called to testify. He described to Douglas County Don Kleine what each evidence marker in the crime scene photos shows. Garcia, meanwhile, sat with his eyes closed. Tosini held the report he wrote in 2008 and referenced it as he was being questioned.
Garcia lawyer Bob Motta Sr. questioned Tosoni about the process of gathering evidence and how gloves and swabs were used at the Hunter home. When asked how many strokes to swab an item, Tosoni replied they tried to get as much on each swab as possible before each is placed inside a box that would go into an envelope. The envelopes are then kept in a secure area of the lab.
Tosoni said he conducted an inventory on the evidence which is then given to the County Attorney's Office. His scene report would have been typed a few days later.
Motta asked if the evidence room is secure? Tosoni said it's very secure with a chip entry. No one gets in without documentation.
Kleine then asked Tosoni to explain how evidence collected is documented and where it goes. When asked if he followed protocol, Tosoni answered yes.
Todd Petrick, a criminalist in the OPD forensic investigation section, was also asked about the process of lifting fingerprints, taking DNA swabs and collecting evidence.
Neighbor Dana Boyle took the stand and recalled seeing Thomas Hunter get off the school bus the day of the murders, March 13th. She said she noticed a bluish-gray Honda CRV on the street with an out-of-state license plate. She saw a side profile of the person in the vehicle and eyes looking back in the rear view mirror. She described him as being of Middle Eastern descent with dark hair. Boyle went out and when she returned, police were there.
Upon cross examination by David Reed, part of Garcia's defense team, asked Boyle about telling an officer that a person was looking for a residence and appeared to be familiar with an address? "Yes, I did say that." Reed asked if she got a good look at the vehicle. Boyle said that was correct and what stood out was that it was clean.
Neighbor Mary E Rommelfanger testified she was at home on March 13th. Mary said when she went to let her dog out she saw a silver car pull up driven by a man. She told jurors, after spotting the vehicle she decided not to let her dog out and watched the man. She said she was suspicious because her neighbors were on vacation. With a clear view of 53rd Street, she said she watched the man walk until she lost sight of him. She described the vehicle as a Honda silver CRV with no front license plate. Rommelfanger said she left to pick up her youngest daughter from school and when she returned the car was gone. Rommelfanger said she saw an ambulance and police officers on 54th Street around 6 p.m. When she heard there had been a murder she told police what she had seen earlier that day.
Aaron Foster testified he was 12-years-old at the time of the murder. He was a friend of Thomas Hunter and a neighborhood paper boy. He recalled seeing a vehicle at the end of the driveway. He described it as a silver CRV, noting that it looked like his grandparent’s vehicle.
Stay at home mom Katherine Swanson testified Tuesday that on March 13th she had arraigned a play date for some neighborhood kids. Swanson said the kids were old enough to play alone, but she would set out signs that said “Slow, Children at Play” in the road so cars would slow down. Swanson said she noticed a gentleman walking on the sidewalk on N. 54th around 3:45 p.m. She said he was not a neighbor and looked out of place. She remembers feeling relieved when the man turned east, to Davenport. She assumed he was leaving the neighborhood. Swanson said the man had dark hair and was wearing a dark suit and was carrying a messenger bag.
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