The first witness was an East Bay Regional Park police officer apparently called to clear up misleading evidence given by another prosecution witness earlier in the trial.Of course they don't "explain" anything -- they just use innuendo to allow the jury and the public to draw whatever conclusion they want, knowing that odds are good that the conclusion, whatever it is, will be adverse to Scott.
That occurred last month when state Department of Justice lab expert Pin Kyo testified she compared plastic twine knotted around Conner Peterson's neck with other plastic debris found on the San Francisco Bay shoreline.
She concluded that the twine was similar to the other debris -- implying Conner had simply become entangled in flotsam commonly found in bay waters.
What prosecutors failed to tell the judge and jury was that the debris she used in the comparison was found more than two months later and a mile away, nearer to where Laci's body washed up on April 14, 2003.
Officer Kris Buelna testified yesterday that on June 21 a passerby had alerted her to the plastic trash alongside a canal on Point Isabel. She recovered it and sent it to the Modesto police.
Prosecutors did not explain, however, why they chose to compare that debris with the twine around Conner's neck.
I checked Kyo's testimony, and yes, she was asked to compare the twine from around Conner's neck to the twine found in the rip rap at Hoffman Channel, which is very near where Laci was found. You can view the two twines at People's 253 and People's 254 and Kyo's testimony on SII. To get to the relevant part of Kyo's testimony quickly, do a search for "Rich 1" without the quotation marks.
People's 290 depicts the Hoffman channel bridge and the debris in the rocks. 290A has an X in about the center of the picture to indicate where the debris was located. Also see Defense 8E, which is the collection of debris in a bag.
I don't doubt the State wanted everyone to conclude that this proves the twine around Conner's neck was just flotsam, but in my opinion, that is not a reasonable conclusion.
First, this collection of "debris" was not strewn over the rocks; it was all found together in a crevice, and it took a bit of effort for Buelna to retrieve it.
The collection included:
- a pair of purple gloves
- a piece of a green glove
- a "whole bunch" of long pieces of plastic that is 17" wide
- plastic twine similar to what was found around Conner's neck
- 1/4" plastic yellow ties
- 1/2" plastic green ties
- a dirty sock
- yellow caution tape that is used at crime scenes or construction sites
- a plastic tag with a loop of string around it
Kyo sent the plastic twine similar to what was found around Conner's neck to Yoshida to be tested, but no testing was done with the long, 17"-wide plastic. If you look at the evidence photos, there indeed is a "whole bunch" of it. Conner was 48 cm long, or 18.9 inches, according to Dr. Peterson's measurement.
From People's 290, I can't tell how far up in the rip rap the collection of debris was compared to the high water line. That would be important information to know in considering whether the debris washed up or was placed there, but it's hard for me to imagine that debris can wash up to be "between and under the concrete" such that pieces of concrete had to be moved in order to collect it all.
Here is an aerial from Google Earth that shows the location of the debris relative to the Laci and Conner Recovery sites and to the Target bag found the day was found. Click to enlarge.