CENTREVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - Blood evidence, DNA, fingerprints, tire treads, GPS data and cell phone records were introduced as evidence in Doug Stewart's murder trial Friday.
Doug is accused of killing his wife, Venus, on April 26, 2010. Her body has never been found.
Sarah Thibault, a forensic scientist with the Michigan State Police, testified she analyzed several different pieces of evidence, including stains from a car and truck. She added a stain on the front driver's door of Doug's pickup truck tested positive for blood, but found no conclusive evidence it was human blood.
After being questioned by defense attorneys she admitted the sample could have been a "false positive," and not blood at all but bleach or ketchup.
Her testimony followed that of another forensic scientist, Christine Gregory, who testified she received plaster casts of tire tracks plus pictures of Doug's vehicles and tires. The general tread pattern of the tire pictures and the plaster cast appear to match, she said, but couldn't say which tires definitely produced the treads at the crime scene. There were not enough unique traits.
Forensic scientist Ann Hunt testified she found Doug's DNA inside gloves, but no DNA results from apparent blood stains or the hair tie found at Venus' parents' home.
Not finding the DNA could mean it wasn't there, she said, or was too degraded to find. Prosecutor John McDonough was quick to redirect the witness. She then said if any DNA was present it could have been compromised by a chemical, like bleach.
Fingerprint expert Jason Sinke testified fingerprints he examined are not Venus Stewart's or her father's. He did not testify as to whose fingerprints they were.
At one point, when the jury was not in the courtroom, Judge Paul Stutesman said, "We've been introducting a lot of evidence without a positive result at this point."
Computer analysis was a topic of testimony, as well.
MSP c omputer analyst Rebecca MacArthur testified she looked at activity on an HP laptop that she was told belonged to Doug.
On April 26, 2010, that laptop went to MySpace, Facebook and the Delaware Technical Community College, among other places, she testified. That is the day Venus disappeared, and the day Ricky Spencer testified he was in Virginia impersonating Doug. Spencer is from Delaware, and attended the Delaware Technical Community College.
Investigators who searched Doug Stewart's Virginia apartment, interviewed his alleged accomplice and analyzed GPS data took the stand Friday morning.
Two Michigan State Police detectives were called. Chuck Christensen said he interviewed Ricky Spencer and took Spencer's fingerprints and DNA when he interviewed him at his Baer, Delaware home.
Then Detective Shane Criger testified he searched Doug's Newport News, Virginia apartment and looked for specific items, like clothes. Criger's testimony was short, and he may be recalled to the stand.
The day began with defense attorney Kymberly Schroder accusing prosecutor John McDonough of not turning over all phone records that are on the evidence list. She said there has been a "problem throughout" the discovery phase of the case.
McDonough said he and his office have been as forthcoming as possible.
Judge Stutesman told the defense that they should not have waited until the trial to say they didn't get records. He pointed out that the recrods were written about in a police report, and said they should have known the phone records would be an issue. He ruled the defense can have a few days to find an expert witness on GPS phone locators, but would not adjourn the trial for more than a few days, if necessary.
Stutesman ruled phone records with GPS locations can be admitted as evidence, again telling the defense they should have asked for these records before the trial began.
When Wally Knight, a record keeper for AT&T took the stand, he said AT& cannot track the location of phones that are not AT&T. He was asked about a phone call made at 8:23 a.m. on April 26, 2010, the day Venus disappeared from her parents' home in Colon Township.
Then Michael Fisher, an FBI analyst of electronic data took the stand to testify about how actual data and deleted data from a GPS unit can be analyzed.
The defense objected to this testimony, claiming Fisher "manipulated" GPS data. Stutesman overruled the objection, saying that type of "manipulation" is more of interpretation, similar to taking a digital picture and getting an image, not a series of 1's and 0's.
Schroder then asked Fisher if he authored the software program he used to analyze this GPS data.
Michael Scott, the case's lead investigator for the Michigan State Police, was recalled to the stand to talk about evidence sent to the state police lab.
Scott, who briefly testified during the first week of the trial, told the jury more than 50 pieces of evidence, including samples of Doug's DNA and fingerprints, a hooded sweatshirt and a hair tie found at Venus' parents' house the day she disappeared, were sent to the Michigan State
Police's crime lab in the course of the case.
The trial will continue Monday at 8:30 a.m. for a half-day session.
24 Hour News 8 learned Venus Stewart's family plans to have a funeral for her on April 26, the one-year anniversary of her disappearance
24 Hour News 8 will continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage from reporter Dani Carlson on CoverItLive and on a live stream on woodtv.com
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