It’s Saturday and the first witness on the stand this morning was Karen Korsberg Lowe, an FBI, forensic evidence examiner. She specializes in the examination of microscopic hair samples. She was an excellent witness for the State, by the way.
Her testimony concerned the collection of hair from the trunk of the Pontiac Sunfire driven by Casey Anthony.
Among the 12 samples of hair collected, one piece of light brown hair, nine inches in length, is consistent with post-mortem hair banding or a marking on the root of hair that indicates it came from the head of a decomposing body.
The One Hair
This one hair, the hair from Caylee Anthony, has been tested and not only shows the type of “post-mortem banding” one would see on a hair from a decomposed body, further tests concluded that Caylee Anthony cannot be excluded as the source of the hair, but Casey can.
We heard from Karen Lowe during the Frye hearings in this case. At that time, the questioning of the witness was conducted by Defense Attorney Dorothy Sims, and it was not in the least bit successful.
Today, Jose Baez handled the cross examination of Karen Lowe, and Baez was hardly convincing because Ms. Lowe was as consistent with Baez as she was with Jeff Ashton during direct examination as to her findings.
Ms. Lowe explained to the jurors that identification of a person cannot be made from the examination of hair; but the appearance of this particular coloration and banding of the hair is consistent with decomposing bodies, though it is unknown if the discoloration might be apparent in another type of situation. She goes on to say that the post-mortem banding characteristics have never been seen in anything other than a decomposing body.
This is very damning evidence for the defense, and Baez tried hard to degrade the science, and Ms. Lowe’s experience.
During the Frye hearing on this topic, Judge Perry ruled the evidence admissible. In his order he said,
In People v. Kogut, expert witnesses testified that post-mortem hair banding occurs only when the hair begins to decompose inside the hair follicle, while still on the head of the deceased. These witnesses further testified that the technique for identifying post-mortem root hair banding was generally accepted in the relevant scientific community of criminologists who are involved in trace evidence analysis, a group that includes FBI, medical examiners, and police laboratories.
Here is the Order from Judge Perry with regards to the admissibility of the evidence, and from which the above quote can be found: Hair Banding Order (Frye)
The next witness was Mike Vincent, who is an assistance supervisor with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, in the crime scene unit. Vincent testified about the methodology used in the collection of various samples of air from the White Pontiac passenger side area, the trunk, and the Bay area itself.
Presumably, this lays the foundation for the testimony of Dr. Arpad Vass of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories.
Dr. Vass was a compelling witness in the Frye hearings with regards to the topic of the odor of decomposition, and the finding of exceedingly high levels of chloroform from the sample taken from the trunk of the car.
It is not looking any better for Casey Anthony today.