There is an astronomically small chance someone other than Jonathan Parker left the dominant DNA markers found in a baseball cap and leather jacket found near the scene of the fatal shooting of a Buffalo police officer, jurors in Parker's murder trial were told Friday.
Anita L. Matthews of the Research Triangle, a North Carolina private lab that did follow-up testing on the items, testified that the predominant DNA markers found on the cap are "consistent" with Parker's DNA. She said he cannot be excluded from those who left DNA on the jacket collar.
Assistant director of the forensic identity testing unit of Laboratory Corporation of America, Ms. Matthews said there is only one chance in 5.5 billion that the bulk of those DNA markers from body fluids, shredding skin or sweat were left by some other African-American.
Under cross-examination by Parker's attorneys James P. Harrington and John V. Elmore, Ms. Matthews conceded her lab found a small quantity of DNA markings on both the jacket and baseball cap from a source other than Parker.
Ms. Matthews, whose lab did more sophisticated DNA studies on those two items than could be carried out at Erie County's Central Police Services lab, also testified that scientists cannot tell when DNA markings from a person's skin or body fluids are left on any garment.
Friday's court session was cut short by earthquake tremors downtown just before 4 p.m. A 13th day of testimony at Parker's trial will get under way Monday before Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico and a jury of seven women and five men.
Joseph J. Marusak, the lead prosecutor in the case, told the judge he should be finished presenting prosecution witnesses Tuesday or Wednesday.
Parker, 20, is charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Buffalo Police Officer Charles "Skip" McDougald and the shooting of Detective Michael Martinez 17 months ago.
McDougald, 36, was fatally shot in the chest and Martinez, now 30, and then his patrol partner, was shot in the right ankle when they allegedly tried to stop Parker for questioning about another man in the 800 block of Northampton Street about 12:50 a.m. April 9, 1997.
Parker has been in custody since he surrendered two days after the killing. He is serving a 15-year prison term on unrelated weapons cases. He faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
Much of the testimony and evidence in recent days has focused on connecting Parker to items found near the shooting scene using DNA evidence.
Ms. Matthews said her lab is able to conduct far more sophisticated and extensive testing on the genetic material than the Buffalo lab, where it was determined there was only one chance in 44,810 that a black American other than Parker could have left the major DNA markings on the two items.
Ms. Matthews said the front head band of the baseball cap contained "a very small quantity of the DNA" of another person, but the majority of the DNA markings found on the cap were consistent with Parker.
Earlier Friday, Dr. John P. Simich, a DNA expert who runs the County Police Services DNA unit here, told the jury that only the FBI's Crime Lab in Washington, D.C. is equipped to make a scientifically definitive "positive identification" of DNA samples tested on any items.
Completing two days on the stand, Simich said the leather jacket and baseball cap were sent to Ms. Matthew's lab a month after he completed the initial DNA testing on the items here in mid-June.
Simich said the Buffalo crime lab's DNA findings were not inconsistent with the findings of Ms. Matthews' lab, but he also conceded under cross-examination that he too found DNA from at least one other person on the leather jacket.
Also Friday, Richard Carter, the Erie County probation officer who interviewed Parker at Carter's downtown office about 12 hours before the fatal shooting, told the jury Parker came to his office dressed in a black leather jacket and a hooded sweat shirt.
Carter, who wasn't cross-examined by Parker's attorneys, told the jury the leather jacket found on Urban Street bears "a strong resemblance to the one I remember" Parker wearing during their April 8, 1997 meeting.
Carter also confirmed the business card found in that jacket was one he had passed on to Parker about a month before the shooting.