Deedrick didn’t get very far before his credentials were called into question by defense counsel David Schertler and Bernie Grimm.
At issue isn’t whether Deedrick can testify as an expert on hair and fiber, but rather a challenge on another discipline he’s expected to speak to – fiber imprint identification. It appears that the “FII” discipline is controversial and perhaps not accepted by scientists as a full subgroup of trace evidence analysis.
An on-the-fly voir direfollowed in which Schertler and Grimm painted the “FII” field as nothing short of alchemy. They once again rolled out the National Academy of Science’s recent report on “Strengthing Forensic Sciences,” and gave Judge Lynn Leibovitz a copy for her to review the pertinent sections.
For good measure, the defense was name dropping one of their hires, celebrity forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee. Lee himself believes “FII” in not grounded in science.
AUSA Rachel Carlson Lieber is making the case for the government to allow Deedrick to testify as a court expert on this somewhat still controversial discipline.
Just before the 30 minute break, Judge Leibovitz clearly stated the challenge: Are there accepted protocols and methodologies for FII? Is it a recognized sub-discipline of trace analysis?
It comes down to Deedrick’s expert testimony being challenged as a Frye objection to the field of fabric imprint identification, and whether or not scientific objective standards and protocols exist to provide a basis for Deedrick’s conclusions.
Did the prosecution expect this challenge? If not, why not? The NAS report has come up before. This may not call for another late night…it’s possible this will get decided this afternoon after Leibovitz reviews another mountain of materials on her already crowded desk.
The trial gets underway at 10:00am in room 310 of Moultrie.
After Judge Lynn Leibovitz’ tongue lashing of the government yesterday, it’s unclear as to which witness they may call next.
Bumped from the stand was Detective Gail Russell-Brown. If the government gets squared away on how they will present the defendants’ statements, we may see her again.
The Examiner’sScott McCabe has a good piece on Judge Leibovitz in today’s edition. One quote from last week’s testimony, concerning the needle puncture wounds, stands out. It reads as if the judge may have made up her mind regarding one key element of the government’s case:
“Things that are unexplained, unusual, weird, that appear to be fresh injuries … are relevant,” she said. “The more unusual, the more relevant it is. …This wasn’t some person that just went into a house and inflicted three stab wounds.”
“This wasn’t some person that just went into a house and inflicted three stab wounds.”
The Hot Seat:After watching Zaborsky’s interview yesterday, one couldn’t help but draw direct comparisons between the three MPD detectives we’ve seen and heard doing the third degrees: Norris, Wagner, and Kasul. Norris is the street cop who was definitely not cut out for this case. Wagner’s gay baiting of Price showed him to be pretty ham-handed and ineffectual. Kasul on the other hand looked and sounded like a smart cop. He’s the guy you want assigned to your case. no question.
Over the past couple days, there were plenty of seats available for anyone wishing to come down and view the proceedings. It’s advised to get there about 15 minutes early.
Judge Leibovitz called an early lunch break. We’ll do our best to digest the latest from this morning.
An exasperated judge broke down Deedrick’s expected testing into three separate buckets; one that the government will not introduce – a stab cut test, and two that are being challenged:
A – the Fabric Imprint Test, meaning the knife swipe on a bloody towel (A Frye challenge).
B – the Fiber Transfer Test, meaning the t-shirt wrapped around the pork loin and stabbed (A Taylor challenge).
The judge told the government that these are “reasonable challenges and one way or another you have to address them.” Still on deck is Deedrick’s already approved testimony on “conventional fiber opinions”
Leibovitz repeatedly quizzed AUSA Carlson Lieber on Deedrick’s methodology. “Do fiber experts do fiber transfer tests and test for transfer rates?” She asked to see materials and articles that spoke to these tests and procedures, but the government had nothing to submit.
Carlson Lieber said that analysts like Deedrick do such experiments (sometimes one-offs like these) to conclude whether or not theories regarding what happened are consistent with the evidence recovered at the scene. In the case of the pork loin, the test was not designed to conclusively determine which knife killed Robert, but only to rule in or out possibilities. These tests, said Carlson Lieber, only inform Deedrick’s opinions.
Speaking of the t-shirt that Deedrick used in the testing, David Schertler rose to say that a black, thick t-shirt was used in the experiment. Carlson Lieber said black was used to enhance visibility and that it was the closest Deedrick could fine in terms of yarn and weave.
“Either it satisfies me or it doesn’t,” Judge Leibovitz warned the government.
After the break, Carlson Lieber will attempt to lay a foundation and basis for Deedrick’s pork loin test.Noon Update