Testimonies of forensic experts unchallenged by defence

PROSECUTORS yesterday called two forensic experts as it sought to establish the chain of custody for critical pieces of evidence collected from the scene of a 2017 double murder and arson allegedly carried out by members of the Klansman Gang in the New Nursery community in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Testimonies of the two experts who are both employees of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine, which is a State-owned entity, went unchallenged by defence attorneys. Their appearance marked the continuation of the Crown's efforts to show the series of activities and individuals who at various points had custody of the biological evidence taken from the victims 26-year-old Jermaine Bryan and his partner, 25-year-old bartender Cedella Walder, whose killing prosecutors say was “demonstrative of the gruesome manner in which this gang operated”. It served further to confirm the sex and the identity of the two victims who had been burnt beyond recognition, making it so that relatives had to undergo DNA testing.

On Thursday, the first of the two witnesses, a senior forensic officer employed to the unit, explained how she received in a sealed and marked bag a sample of blood taken from what was then “an unidentified male deceased and a sealed, marked bag containing sternum allegedly taken from an unidentified female” from an officer assigned to the Major Investigative Division of the constabulary. She said after making the appropriate notes she took the blood sample to a limited-access area and placed it into a cold room there while the sternum was collected by a member of the DNA Unit who was on duty at the time to collect bone samples.

And the second scientist, who testified that she was the one to conduct buccal swabbing of the mothers of the two deceased and carry out the DNA testing of those swabs, the sternum and the blood said the findings in respect of victims to the respective mothers were a clear match and showed over 99.9 percentage certainty in both cases.

On Wednesday this week, prosecutors called a detective corporal, who is also a forensic crime scene investigator, who in being led through the photographic evidence presented to the court, described the items taken from the scene along with the charred remains of the couple.

The detective corporal who began giving his evidence on Tuesday had said investigators who were called to the scene in the wee hours of September 9, 2017 were able to discern breasts and the pubic parts of a male in the rubble leading them to conclude that the victims were male and female at that time.

The trial, which would have continued this morning, was instead adjourned until Monday after prosecutors told trial judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes that they had been unable to confirm the availability of witnesses for the day.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

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