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Judge reveals key DNA evidence in Mandy Steingasser murder is hair and fiber

During a court session Tuesday, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon revealed that hair and fibers are the key evidence from which DNA was taken that led to last year's arrest of Joseph H. Belstadt on charges of murdering Mandy Steingasser, 17, of North Tonawanda in 1993.

But the admissibility of the material remains in doubt.

Sheldon said she may hold a hearing on "each individual hair that was seized and when it was seized." She said police impounded Belstadt's car in 1993 "and kept pulling stuff out of it. By what authority were they doing that? That's a pretty good question."

Also Tuesday, retired North Tonawanda Detective John Dierdorf testified that Jerry Miller, a friend of Belstadt's, once wore a recording device at the behest of police to record conversations with Belstadt. Dierdorf said the audio quality was poor and the FBI was called in to enhance it.

With stacks of pretrial motions inundating her, Sheldon ordered the trial postponed from Sept. 16 to Jan. 13.

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