Forensics Expert Testifies in Juarez Case
Says Both Defense and Prosecution's Theories on Fatal Stabbing Could Be Correct
The murder trial of Ricardo Juarez – the teen accused of fatally stabbing Luis Angel Linares in a State Street gang brawl in March 2007 – continued on Monday with further testimony from pathologist Dr. Robert Anthony. With the help of three very large anatomical diagrams of the victim’s body, Anthony gave his testimony about the wounds he discovered on Linares’ body during the slain teen’s autopsy.
Anthony entertained hypotheses from both the prosecution and defense about the injury of greatest interest: the fatal wound in the right armpit area. Because Anthony could not place the wounds in a chronological sequence, prosecutor Hilary Dozer’s and defender Karen Atkins’ stories of how Linares – who, at the time of the incident was just one year older than the 14-year-old Juarez -sustained the fatal blow differ greatly.
Dozer physically demonstrated how he thinks the victim was getting up from a backward crab walk and turning to run away when he bared his back and was stabbed while near the intersection of State and Carrillo streets. Atkins describes the victim receiving the blow in the back parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue while facing away from his attacker in a standing position. Dr. Anthony determined that both scenarios are realistic possibilities, but he also said, “I’m sure we could sit here today and come up with hundreds of explanations.”
Atkins attempted to discredit Dozer’s scenario by asking Anthony how difficult it would be to muster the energy and strength to run after sustaining an injury like the fatal one that Linares incurred that day, hoping it would be relatively impossible, but the pathologist explained that there would be a range of reactions, and that while some people would be incapacitated, others might be able to get up and run even with a collapsed lung and severe internal bleeding. Atkins tried to rephrase the question, asking if it also depended on recent exertion as a result of the physical activity involved in the altercation, but the pathologist answered, “I don’t think it can be answered yes or no.”
While Anthony had dubbed Dozer’s scenario “reasonable” during his questioning by the prosecution, Dozer’s use of the word “probable” further escalated the argument between him and the defendant’s attorney.
“He [Anthony] reiterated his belief that it could have happened according to the prosecutor’s description, adding that “it’s possible that aliens did it,” according to the physical evidence he has. “I cannot put the knife in someone’s hand,” Anthony ultimately said, explaining that all he can do is determine how the wounds might have been sustained.
Immediately following Anthony’s testimony, Tuesday’s next expert witness was criminologist Diane Burns, who inspected all of the submitted evidence for biological materials – most specifically, blood.
Burns described how she processed the evidence, carefully examining it visually and then with the aid of several different microscope instruments. Having detected stains that looked like potential blood samples, Burns explained that she used a test that determined the presence of hemoglobin, a component of blood, and if the test had positive results, she collected samples to send to the DNA lab. Of all of the evidence, two pairs and one single glove tested positive for blood, along with a white pair of tennis shoes belonging to the defendant, and other articles of clothing collected from the suspects. While Burns could not determine whose DNA was on which objects, the court will most likely have another scientist from the DNA lab testify on this matter in the future to elucidate the unanswered questions.
The other witnesses of Monday and Tuesday’s trial sessions included a handful of law enforcement officers, and two civilians who had witnessed or been called to the scene of the fight on March 14, 2007. Much of the testimony given merely reiterated things that other witnesses had previously established earlier on in the trial, though Monday and Tuesday’s civilian witnesses did have their own perspectives of the events that day to share.
One witness, Jeannine Kassity, was upstairs in a building across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue when she saw the victim lying in a planter in the back parking lot of the store. She testified to having seen the same person, later determined to be Linares, assaulted by several people who had formed a semicircle, one whom kicked the victim “like he was punting a football” and another who threw something.
The other civilian, Sean Simms, said he had heard a loud commotion in the parking lot of Saks. Simms said he ran across the street and grabbed two young men to ask them what was happening, but let them run away when he saw the victim in the bushes. One of the boys he tried to grab was reportedly wearing a long-sleeved sweatshirt and a pair of black gloves. Because he has medical training, Simms administered CPR before running to the Fire Department to get assistance.
Court is scheduled to reconvene Wednesday, August 27, at 10 am.