Questioning the evidence: blood on the jacket (updated 09/30/02):
At trial we won’t see blood on David Westerfield’s jacket but a jacket with holes and no photographs of the blood
What is a swab?
Suppose you have a piece of clothing with dry blood on it, how do you proceed to test the blood? You swab it.
Explanation provided by Dorie Savage :
That’s basically wetting a q-tip-type item with some sterile water and swabbing it or with some distilled water and swabbing the blood stain. To get what was in the stain onto the swab wetting the swab with the water, it’s just like washing something up. it just soaks it up into the swab.
In other words, starting from a dry blood stain, you can easily produce 1 gallon of a liquid containing DNA.
Nothing indicates where Westerfield’s jacket was, nor if Westerfield was wearing it. If he had killed Danielle and had Danielle’s blood on front of his jacket (according to Detective Soriano, the stain was 3cm long, one and three-sixteenths of an inch, and was located on the front of the jacket), he would have destroyed the jacket, rather than bring it to his favorite corner dry cleaner.
On February 4th, IN THE MORNING, Westerfield brought the JACKET, a couple of comforters and a couple of covers at the dry cleaner. He didn’t request any specific service.
Julie Mills works the morning shift at the dry cleaner – Extract from her testimony:-
Dusek: When he brought in these five items, did he make any special requests for when he could get them back?
Julie Mills: No, he did not.
On February 4th, IN THE AFTERNOON, Westerfield brought a pair of black pants, black sweater, and a black teeshirt at the dry cleaner. He requested a same day service for these specific items.
Kelly Belom works the afternoon shift at the dry cleaner – Extract from her testimony:-
Dusek: Did he make any special request for these clothing items?
Kelly Belom: He asked if he could get them back that afternoon.
Dusek: Did he say why he needed them so fast?
Kelly Belom: No, he didn’t.
Dusek: What did you tell him?
Kelly Belom I said no. you can only get them back the same day if they are brought in before 10:00 in the morning.
According to the affidavit filled on Feb 7th 2002 by detective Torgersen in order to obtain a warrant to search the dry cleaner:
During the execution of the search warrant for one of Westerfield’s vehicule, detective Joe Howie located two receipts for what appeared to be a dry cleaning business. On February 5th detective Torgersen went to several dry cleaning businesses and was unable to locate a business which could identify the receipts.
On February 6th 2002, Detective Mike Ott (*)viewed the receipts and believed they belonged to Twin Peaks Cleaners. Although there was no name on the receipts, Detective Ott believed the receipts looked similar to the receipts HE received when HE frequented the Twin Peaks Cleaners.
On February 6th 2002, Westerfield admitted that he dropped off items for cleaning.
On February 7th police obtained a search warrant that gave authorities the right to search the dry cleaner premises and confiscate all items Westerfield brought in for dry cleaning days after Danielle’s disappearance, including a jacket and two comforters.
Police confiscated Westerfield’s jacket on Feb 7th 2002 and put the jacket in a paper bag. There are no records indicating police took a photography of the jacket on February 7th 2002.
Six days later, Feb 13th 2002, expert Soriano opened the bag containing the jacket and said he SAW blood with his eyes after the jacket has been dry cleaned.
He tested the jacket for blood, cut the pieces of the jacket where he identified blood, and sent the cut pieces to expert Annet Peer.
Later, A. Peer compared the pieces testing positive for blood with the yellow stain found on Danielle’s underwear.
22 days after the dry cleaner didn’t see any blood; 22 days after the jacket had been dry cleaned; 19 days after police confiscated the jacket and 13 days after Soriano said he SAW blood on the jacket;
ONE stain was identified as Danielle’s DNA profile on FEBRUARY 26th.
What happened to the jacket between February 7th and February 13th when an expert SAW blood? At trial we won’t see blood on the jacket but a jacket with holes and no photographs of the blood.
At trial the dry cleaner clerk testifies that she didn’t see any blood on Westerfield’s jacket or any other items:
Feldman: “If any of the items would have had blood on it, you would’ve spotted it?”
My comments: What does the above mean? It means that the clerk working for 12 years at the dry cleaner didn’t see with her eyes any spot on Westerfield’s jacket when he dropped it for cleaning.
She didn’t see a blood stain on the front of jacket which size was described by Soriano as approximately 3 cm long (one and three-sixteenths of an inch) !! After 12 years of working in a dry cleaner I would expect the clerk to be able to detect a blood stain 3 cm long on the front of a jacket because that’s her job, that’s what these people do for living.
Extract from preliminary hearing: expert testimony about the four stains found on Westerfield’s jacket:
Q. Now, let’s talk about the stains that you said that you observed. Could you describe for us each one, please?
A. What I noted was an off-white stain. I also noted two dark green stains. And I also noted an apparent reddish brown stain, as well as other light reddish brown stains.
Q. Did you take any — and this was as a result of a VISUAL INVESTIGATION by you?
Q. What steps did you take with regard to those stains that you observed WITH YOUR EYES?
A. Of course, documenting them, noting the color and the approximate size of those stains that are — in particular for the blood-like appearance.
Q. What did you do at that point?
A. After performing a VISUAL EXAMINATION, I then conducted chemical presumptive tests for blood.
On June 24th 2002, Detective David Cornacchia testified.
David Cornacchia is employed by the San Diego police department as criminalist in the forensic biology unit. His job includes D.N.A. testing and testing or examination of various types of evidence for the presence of biological fluids such as blood. David Cornacchia among other qualifications, holds a bachelor of science degree in forensic science.
He was asked to examine a pair of blue-and-white pajamas, a purple-and-blue long-sleeve shirt found in Danielle’s bedroom. He found blood-like stains on the cuff of the left sleeve of the pajama top, on the cuff of the left sleeve of the shirt. He tested this stains for blood and obtained a positive result.
There was also a bean bag chair in Danielle’s bedroom. David Cornacchia never saw the blood on this chair, he received swabs from this bean bag to test for D.N.A. The result of his testing excluded David Westerfield
But David Cornacchia was not asked to test the stains found on the pajamas and the shirt for D.N.A. Instead, they were sent to a private laboratory for D.N.A. testing.
According to Annette Peer expert working for the forensic biology unit of San Diego Police Departement, in approximately 1990, the San Diego Police
Department received funding to start up their own D.N.A. laboratory.
Note: the private laboratory charged the D.A.’s office an estimated $45,000 plus $4,000 for testimony and travel. Testimony cost $1,700 per day.
Extract from testimony of Mitchell Holland June 26th 2002
Mitchell Holland works at the private laboratory named Bode Technology. He testified that he received the pajamas and shirt from the San Diego police for the purpose of D.N.A. testing on April 16th 2002.
On May 10th 2002, he wrote in his report that he identified D.N.A. as matching Danielle’s profile on pajamas and shirt.
Questions: Danielle’s pajamas and shirt were found on February 2nd 2002. Why did Danielle bleed on her pajamas and shirt found on the floor of her bedroom? Why didn’t Detective Cornacchia test these two items for D.N.A? He tested swabs from the bean bag, so why were the two others pieces testing positive for blood sent to a private laboratory for D.N.A. testing? Why did the laboratory receive the pajamas and shirt on April 16th 2002? Why was it so long after they were discovered?
What happened to the pajamas and shirt between the date Cornacchia tested them positive for blood and April 16th 2002 when they were sent to the private laboratory?
(*)Extract from Nbc San Diego April 2002
New Questions Surface About Detectives In Westerfield Case
Two of the detectives investigating the kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam may have falsified statements during a murder investigation two years ago, court documents show.
The allegation surfaced in an internal memo from the district attorney’s office dated Nov. 29, 2000, questioning the actions of Michael Ott and Mark Keyser. An investigator for the district attorney’s office told a prosecutor that he believed that Ott and Keyser doctored facts in an affidavit to obtain an arrest warrant for a man held for investigation of murder.
The memo said the man held had been arrested with “very little justification” and that Keyser had filed an affidavit falsely stating that a witness had positively identified him in a photo lineup. The witness never did pick anyone out of the lineup, according to the memo. It was unclear whether the man was ever charged with the crime.
Ott and Keyser interviewed Westerfield when he returned from a weekend trip two days after Danielle disappeared. They also went with him when he retraced the trip to the beach, the desert and back to the beach. The detectives also attempted to interview Westerfield in jail after the little girl’s body was found, but he refused to see them.