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Bloody Knife Subject of Testimony in Murder Trial

Robert Ibarra Accused of Killing Elias Silva in 2004


Testimony given last Thursday by a senior criminologist in the ongoing Robert Ibarra murder trial confirmed that blood left on a pocketknife found at the scene belonged to victim Elias Silva.

Ibarra is on trial for the October 2004 stabbing death of Silva at a Goleta apartment. His murder charge carries with it the special circumstances of lying in wait, personally using a knife, and committing the crime for the benefit, at the direction of, or in association with the Eastside street gang. The prosecution is seeking a life sentence without parole.

Defense attorney Steve Balash questioned where the blood swab was taken from on the knife, which had blood splatters on both the handle and the blade. Sarah Calvin, a senior criminologist with the Department of Justice’s forensics lab in Richmond, testified that she was not aware of where the swab was taken from before the it was sent to her for testing. The samples had been sent to Richmond in 2005 because, at the time, the Santa Barbara lab lacked the equipment necessary to compare DNA samples.

Calvin admitted during cross-examination that one could not assume it was the same person’s blood throughout the length of the knife. The defense’s interest in the location of the sample stems from the fact that Ibarra was allegedly stabbed in the leg when the murder took place. While Ibarra’s DNA can be excluded from the location on the knife from where the sample was taken, it cannot be excluded from the rest of the knife.

Patrol Sergeant Denny Kremer of the San Diego Police Department testified that when Ibarra was apprehended in downtown San Diego at 12:49 a.m. on October 4, 2004, he was favoring his left leg. Upon further examination, he and another officer confirmed they saw a wound on Ibarra’s upper left calf that was still bleeding. Kremer continued on to say that Ibarra appeared calm while being taken into custody. Ibarra and Joshua Miracle, who is currently on death row for his involvement in the murder, were arrested in San Diego in the victim’s car a day after the murder took place.

A large portion of Thursday’s testimony focused on DNA results presented by Calvin and Eric Halsing, a senior criminologist and coworker of Calvin’s at the Richmond lab. The two testified that a swab of blood taken from just outside the apartment’s front door could be confirmed as Ibarra’s, and a swab of blood from just inside the entryway to the apartment was confirmed as Silva’s.

Silvas’s blood was also found on a glove in a backpack that was in the car when Ibarra and Miracle were pulled over.

David Barber, a senior criminologist at Santa Barbara’s forensics lab, testified that the bloody shoe prints trailing from the apartment to the complex’s back parking lot could be from Miracle’s shoes. While not absolute, the prints were left by shoes similar to those Miracle was wearing that night. No shoes from Ibarra were sent to be compared with the prints left at the scene.

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