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Trial Day 2: Science

October 20, 2010 • Local News

Tuesday, day two of the State of New Mexico v. Aaron Daugherty concentrated on forensics and forensic pathology. Daugherty, 25, is accused of killing Valerie A. York, 25, and Mark A. Koenig, 23, on June 13, 2009. Police were called to the trailer park, 1207 W. Hobbs, space 13, around 2:45 a.m., where they located the bodies of the victims.

Both had been shot in the head. The district attorney’s office brought in Dr. Ian Paul, the forensic pathologist from the Office of the Medical Investigator who conducted the autopsies on York and Koenig, to testify for the state.

Paul described the two wounds to York, both of which would have been fatal. The second would most likely have resulted in almost immediate death. Paul said Koenig also suffered from two bullet wounds.

The wounds on both victims exhibited evidence of “stippling,” which shows powder burns and debris.

Stippling occurs when victims are shot within a range of two to three feet. In each instance, it was reported that the second wound on each victim revealed the most severe stippling and probably took place at a closer range. Defense attorney James S. Lowry asked if the number designations, first and second, indicated the sequence of the shots fired.

Paul said no, it was impossible to determine which shot came first. Assistant District Attorney Michael Sanchez called Steve Guerra from the Department of Public Safety Firearm and Tool Mark Unit to the stand. Guerra explained the means used to compare spent bullets to weapon, using caliber, rifling, or lands and grooves, found in a bullet after firing. Guerra stated that the bullets test fired from the Ruger Super Blackhawk found in Daugherty’s car at the time he was apprehended “was consistent with the partial fragment” found during the autopsy. Upon cross-examination, Lowry asked if Daugherty’s weapon could be fired automatically, and Guerra replied, no.

“It is single action and must be manually cocked with the hammer pulled back.” Carrie Zais, of the Department of Public Safety DNA and Serology [auth] Unit, testified to the DNA evidence that compared blood found at the scene to the blood on the clothing Daugherty was wearing at the time he was apprehended. According to Zais, the blood was a positive match for Koenig, with the odds of a match with any other individual in the Caucasian population, of “20 quintillion to one, or a 20 with 18 zeros put in it.”

Daugherty’s blood on the right shoe revealed “a partial profile consistent with York” with the odds of a match of “1 to 4.6 trillion.” Zais indicated that the blood located inside the cell phone found inside Daugherty’s car belonged to York, with the likelihood of being matched to the rest the Caucasian population estimated at 1 to 5.57 septillion.

The blood found on the outside of the cell phone belonged to Koenig, with a match probability of 1 to 1.533 quintillion.

Zais noted that the entire global population was 6 billion. After lunch, Detective Ron Smith of RPD’s Technical Services Unit of Crime Investigation Division, went over photos of the crime scene.

He testified to the various bullet holes located both inside and outside the building. He described the amount of blood found inside the front door and in the kitchen that “sprayed all the way to the ceiling.” During cross-examination, Wilcox stepped up for the defense. He questioned the possibility of crime scene contamination. Smith replied, “An officer’s first duty is to clear the building to ensure the safety of anyone who may remain inside. It would have been almost impossible to step inside the door without stepping in blood.”

Wilcox also asked when Sanchez had been present at the crime scene and asked if Sanchez had been logged in and logged out on the contamination log. Both Smith and CID supervisor Sgt. Erik Hiatt, who testified next, said that it was standard for the District Attorney’s office to send over someone to examine a crime scene as complex as the one associated with the murders of York and Koenig. Wilcox questioned the mechanical malfunction that resulted in audio, but no videotape, of the initial interview with Daugherty.

He was informed by Hiatt that the law only required an audio recording, which they had obtained, and the faulty equipment had been replaced since June 2009.

j.palmer@roswell-record.com

Paul described the two
wounds to York, both of
which would have been
fatal. The second would
most likely have resulted
in almost immediate
death.
Paul said Koenig also
suffered from two bullet
wounds.
The wounds on both victims
exhibited evidence of
“stippling,” which shows
powder burns and debris.
Stippling occurs when victims
are shot within a
range of two to three feet.
In each instance, it was
reported that the second
wound on each victim
revealed the most severe
stippling and probably
took place at a closer
range.
Defense attorney James
S. Lowry asked if the number
designations, first and
second, indicated the
sequence of the shots
fired. Paul said no, it was
impossible to determine
which shot came first.
Assistant District Attorney
Michael Sanchez
called Steve Guerra from
the Department of Public
Safety Firearm and Tool
Mark Unit to the stand.
Guerra explained the
means used to compare
spent bullets to weapon,
using caliber, rifling, or
lands and grooves, found
in a bullet after firing.
Guerra stated that the
bullets test fired from the
Ruger Super Blackhawk
found in Daugherty’s car
at the time he was apprehended
“was consistent
with the partial fragment”
found during the autopsy.
Upon cross-examination,
Lowry asked if
Daugherty’s weapon could
be fired automatically, and
Guerra replied, no. “It is
single action and must be
manually cocked with the
hammer pulled back.”
Carrie Zais, of the
Department of Public Safety
DNA and Serology Unit,
testified to the DNA evidence
that compared
blood found at the scene
to the blood on the clothing
Daugherty was wearing
at the time he was
apprehended.
According to Zais, the
blood was a positive match
for Koenig, with the odds
of a match with any other
individual in the Caucasian
population, of “20
quintillion to one, or a 20
with 18 zeros put in it.”
Daugherty’s blood on
the right shoe revealed “a
partial profile consistent
with York” with the odds of
a match of “1 to 4.6 trillion.”
Zais indicated that the
blood located inside the
cell phone found inside
Daugherty’s car belonged
to York, with the likelihood
of being matched to the
rest the Caucasian population
estimated at 1 to
5.57 septillion. The blood
found on the outside of
the cell phone belonged to
Koenig, with a match
probability of 1 to 1.533
quintillion.
Zais noted that the
entire global population
was 6 billion.
After lunch, Detective
Ron Smith of RPD’s Technical
Services Unit of
Crime Investigation Division,
went over photos of
the crime scene. He testified
to the various bullet
holes located both inside
and outside the building.
He described the amount
of blood found inside the
front door and in the
kitchen that “sprayed all
the way to the ceiling.”
During cross-examination,
Wilcox stepped up for
the defense. He questioned
the possibility of crime
scene contamination.
Smith replied, “An officer’s
first duty is to clear
the building to ensure the
safety of anyone who may
remain inside. It would
have been almost impossible
to step inside the door
without stepping in blood.”
Wilcox also asked when
Sanchez had been present
at the crime scene and
asked if Sanchez had been
logged in and logged out
on the contamination log.
Both Smith and CID
supervisor Sgt. Erik Hiatt,
who testified next, said
that it was standard for
the District Attorney’s
office to send over someone
to examine a crime
scene as complex as the
one associated with the
murders of York and
Koenig.
Wilcox questioned the
mechanical malfunction
that resulted in audio, but
no videotape, of the initial
interview with Daugherty.
He was informed by Hiatt
that the law only required
an audio recording, which
they had obtained, and the
faulty equipment had been
replaced since June 2009.
j.palmer@roswell-record.com

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