Jury at Diana murder trial on sixth day hears DNA expert
Rockland — The prosecution in the Arnold Diana murder trial July 23 put consecutive witnesses on the stand to show how police investigation and the Maine State Crime Lab work together.
Diana, 37, is on trial for the murder of Katrina Windred, 47, of Friendship on Nov. 20, 2010.
The state introduced a biologist and a DNA analyst who answered questions about the case that had been lingering in people’s minds since the trial began more than six days ago.
Detective Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police testified first. He told the jury that he became involved in the case Nov. 23 when he met with other state police and Rockland police officers to examine the trash collection area behind the three-story Thorndike Building on Main Street.
“A trash collection area is a common place to get rid of items from a crime,” Holmquist explained.
“I observed tall recycling bins full of trash on one side, and to the right a chute from the residents’ floors,” he said.
One white trash bag had been torn open the day before when another detective examining it was called away. It included a purple towel and a white and gray jacket that proved significant.
“The jacket had clump of hair, a ‘No on 1’ pin, and red-brown bloodstains inside the hood,” he said.
Holmquist said the crew was called away again, this time to go to Thompson Meadow Road, where the body of Windred had been discovered just off the road.
“We were to go to Diana’s apartment to research a search warrant, and when we got there at 6:30, we were advised he was in Vinalhaven.”
The detectives found a seat cushion in a trashcan in the apartment that contained personal effects of Windred, including her Social Security card, driver’s license, medical card, eyeglasses, cell phone, debit cards and receipts.
The team collected the items, such as an empty carton of Golden Harvest cigarettes, a cutting of a carpet with a red-brown stain, and a blue and white jacket, as evidence to be sent to the crime lab.
They also collected bedding, such as four pillowcases with stains, to be sent to the lab.
Defense attorney Christopher MacLean in a cross-examination asked Holmquist if he had seen a lock on the gate to the trash area. Holmquist said he could not say.
Holmquist then narrated a video of the apartment shown by MacLean.
Michele Fleury, a 10-year veteran forensic chemist with the Maine State Crime Lab, took the stand next to explain what happens to items that investigators submit to her.
Holder of a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Maine, Fleury said her responsibility involves examining and cataloging the items.
She swabs suspected blood traces with a presumptive test, and sends the results to have its DNA tested for confirmation.
“We assign a sub-number to each item to track it,” she said. For example, one swab marked MAH 19 with the initials of the detective sending it became Lab 46 when she received it. This system helps the lab to identify the source and whereabouts of each item.
Cathy MacMillan, a 19-year veteran as an analyst of DNA samples, took the stand. MacMillan spent 12 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police before retiring and coming to the Maine State Crime Lab in 2001, she said.
DNA is a genetic blueprint of every cell in one’s body. Half of the makeup comes from one’s mother and half from one’s father, she said.
At the start of her investigation, she made up a list of known DNA standards of the people involved in the case, such as Diana and Windred.
In some cases there might not be enough evidence to provide a DNA profile, she said.
DNA is a random match of the probability of one in 300 billion people of having the same characteristics, she said.
In a cross-examination, MacLean wanted to know how many times Diana’s DNA featured in her tests with Windred.
“No DNA from Diana on the clothing that is believed to have belonged to Windred?” asked MacLean.
“Nothing was tested,” MacMillan said.
MacLean elicited from her that no DNA of Diana’s was found on Windred’s body.
Presiding Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said the defense would introduce its witnesses Tuesday. He predicted the trial would be over by Friday before the jury begins its deliberation.
“There is no magic formula to how long the deliberation will last,” Hjelm said.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or at email@example.com.