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Graphic Evidence Presented in Ibarra Murder Trial

Forensic Proof Reveals Bloody, If Not Definitive, Details of Crime Scene and Vehicle


A forensic analyst testified Monday, June 13, that two bloody fingerprints, of a left index finger and a left middle finger, found on a pocketknife left at the crime scene match those of the defendant Robert Ibarra.

Ibarra is on trial for the murder of Elias Silva at a Goleta apartment in October 2004. Prosecution is seeking life without parole, as the murder has added circumstances including lying in wait, personally using a knife, and committing the crime for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the Eastside street gang.

Lisa Hemman, a forensic analyst for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said Ibarra’s prints were also found on a plastic soda bottle in the apartment’s bathroom, on the right side of the sink where Joshua Miracle’s were also found.

Miracle is currently on death row for his involvement in the murder after pleading guilty in early 2005.

However, during cross-examination by defense attorney Steve Balash, Hemman testified that the prints showed that the knife was held at an angle that appeared awkward, if it were to be used to attack. Hemman also said they did not check the knife to match it with the stab wound on the back of Ibarra’s left leg.

Two additional prints on the knife were ruled inconclusive, with one on top of the other. Hemman said they could neither confirm nor rule out whether these prints belonged to Ibarra, Miracle, Silva, or any combination of two of them.

Hemman also testified that a receipt from the Home Depot was found in a bag Ibarra allegedly brought to the apartment. The receipt’s timestamp was October 2, 2004, at 7:52 p.m. Previous testimony had identified Ibarra in the store’s surveillance footage.

Most of the day’s proceedings included law enforcement officials confirming their roles in the investigation of the October 3, 2004, murder.

Charlene Marie, lab director of Santa Barbara’s forensic laboratory, testified that items sent for analysis included a pair of pants Ibarra was wearing the night of the murder. She said they were heavily stained in the back of the left leg below the knee, as well as in the lining of the front and back left pocket.

Deputy Albert Lafferty of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department testified first through photos taken of the crime scene. At the time of the crime, Lafferty was serving as a detective in the forensic unit.

Lafferty continued by testifying that two different shoe patterns trailed from the apartment to the back parking lot, where the victim‘s car was allegedly parked. A print of a left shoe on the trail also showed a blood castoff following behind it along the path’s entirety.

Images of the apartment showed blood spread around the victim’s body, soaking the carpet, with bloody shoe prints throughout. Graphic images of the victim’s body were included, showing him lying on his back with a throw rug over his head, with wounds on his upper right arm showing.

Small blood splatters could be found on a wall of the apartment near the door and on a computer monitor and hard drive on a desk near where the body was found.

After presenting the photographs from the crime scene, Lafferty continued by detailing findings recovered from the victim’s Honda Civic. A large blood stain was shown on the left side of the car between the driver’s seat and the door jam.

A map on the San Diego area with markings on it was also found on the floor in front of the car’s passenger seat. Ibarra and Miracle were arrested in San Diego after area police pulled over the stolen car.

Also found inside the car was first aid tape, hydrogen peroxide, an empty Advil bottle, and bloody gauze.

The trial continues today, June 15.

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