Gerald Carnahan (mug shot St. Louis County)
As the murder trial for Gerald Carnahan enters day three it appears that the estimated two week length of the trial might have to be extended.
The state was only able to call four witnesses to the stand on Wednesday instead of the estimated 6 to 7 that were planned as lawyers on both sides hammered away at those who were called to the stand.
Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore
Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore called Allyn Wollard, a former employee of Springfield Aluminum (the company owned by Gerald Carnahan's father,) said he saw Carnahan's distinctive truck sitting empty on the shoulder of 160 about 7 p.m. and then again between 10 to 10:15 p.m. Wollard was fired after a strike at the company in 1985.
He testified that the second time he saw the vehicle it was parked behind the 7-Eleven near the English Village mobile home park. He said that when he returned home about midnight, the truck was gone.
Jackie Johns (family photo)
Jackie Johns, 20, was last seen alive when she bought a can of hairspray and cigarettes at the 7-Eleven on 160 at CC between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. on June 17, 1985.
Defense attorney Joe Passanise was able to get Wollard, who was an admitted heavy drug user in the 80's, to admit that he lied at least seven times when he was called by a grand jury in the late 80's, and that his estranged wife lived with Carnahan following their split. Passanise argued, “You also told multiple people you wanted Gerry to rot in jail? You lied all those times and you want the jury to believe you?” "Yes sir." Wollard replied.
The state next called Wade Pearce who testified his ex-wife persuaded him to call authorities after he saw Gerald Carnahan's truck parked with the cab facing out near the clubhouse of The English Village mobile home park. The mobile home park sits caddy corner to the convenience store.
Defense attorney, Dee Wampler, attempted to get Pearce to waffle on what he saw "for a split second." Pearce stood by his testimony by the identification -- "I know what I saw," he said.
Next called to the stand was a reluctant Kenny Carnahan, Gerald Carnahan's brother. Kenny Carnahan had been subpoenaed by the state.
Kenny Carnahan testified that he and some family members had gone to Branson to see the Baldknobbers and estimated he was returning family members to his father's home at approximately 11:15 p.m. and midnight. He said when he approached the 7-Eleven he saw a truck that looked like his brothers and thought that it had possibly broken down.
Moore was able to get Kenny Carnahan to admit that his brother asked him not to mention the sighting to investigators. Wampler targeted Kenny Carnahan’s statements before a grand jury or in depositions where he stated that he was uncertain of what he had seen. On rebuttal Kenny Carnahan didn't deny that he had made the statement that he was sure the truck was Gerald's.
Defense Attorney Dee Wampler
The state then called retired Highway Patrol trooper Tom Martin. Martin was called shortly after Johns' abandoned black Camaro was discovered along the shoulder of U. S. 160, it door shortly ajar, the keys still in the ignition.
Martin testified about the bloody jeans, bra, shirt and panties that he bagged and tagged as evidence. Martin said that when the trunk was opened they discovered the bloody jack with hair attached to it. Martin said he didn't know what happened to the evidence that he had collected after he retired.
Wampler pointed out during opening statements that there were 189 items taken as evidence out of Johns' vehicle, and not one of them belonged to or had Gerald Carnahan's DNA on them.
Anglers on Lake Springfield discovered Jackie Johns nude body floating near some brush four days after she went missing. Martin was there when her body was recovered and also in Columbia when her autopsy was performed.
Wampler asked Martin if it was just a coincidence that the media was tipped off on where to be when Carnahan was arrested later along 160. “It sounds like it was planned as a media event,” Wampler asked, to which Martin replied: “I didn’t plan the media event.”
Former Christian County Sheriff Dwight McNeil, who is now a private investigator, was called to the stand as the state's first witness on Friday. McNeil described for the jury that Johns' was virtually unrecognizable after being beaten on the head with an object that the state says was the young woman's own jack iron. McNeil testified that a laceration to Johns skull ran through the skull plate and that she had bruises on her hands and knuckles.
Gene Gietzen, a former criminalist at what once was the Springfield Regional Crime Lab testified that he was present when authorities recovered the woman's remains from Johns' body Lake Springfield on June 22, 1985.
Wampler zeroed in on Dr. Jay Dix's (who died in 2002) autopsy report that says vaginal swab taken, interpreting that as meaning only one swab was taken during autopsy. Geitzen said that plurals are not often used in notation.
Wampler also brought into evidence another report that states "vaginal swabs were consumed during analysis." Gietzen told jurors what that meant is that the cotton tips of the swabs were destroyed when they were used to create other samples, like microscopic smears on a slide or when they were immersed in liquid to extract semen. Gietzen said some of the tests were inconclusive, but he did find intact sperm on one slide.
Wampler was dogged in his questioning of both officials about the custody and chain of evidence and exactly how that evidence had been stored in the 25 year-old murder case. Wampler asked whether scrapings from Johns' fingernails were taken at autopsy. McNiel said fingernail scrapings were done, but he has no idea where they are. Gietzen testified that he didn't believe Dr. Dix recovered any fingernail scrapings. "I don't recall any fingernail scrapings being given to me."
On Friday, testimony entered the 21st Century with lawyers on both sides targeting DNA evidence.
Springfield police detective, Sgt. Brian DiSylvester. DiSylvester testified that he was assigned to review the Johns case in 2002 and 2003. He said some items were sent for testing in 1999 and in 2003 he sent additional evidence to the Missouri Highway Patrol and a private DNA analysis company to be analysed. He told jurors that no matches were made at that time.
Defense attorney Adam Woody asked DiSylvester how evidence had been stored, and if it was secure. DiSylvester admitted that evidence had not been refrigerated for several years, but to his knowledge it had remained in police custody.
Gina Pineda, who was a supervisor at the private DNA testing facility in New Orleans where evidence was sent in 2003, testified that attempts to develop a DNA profile from those samples submitted then were unsuccessful.
Pineda testified that technology had evolved in the four years since her lab received those samples and that she concurs with a Missouri Highway Patrol criminalists work from 2007 that links Carnahan to DNA allegedly recovered from Johns' body in 1985.
The state wrapped up it's case on Monday September 20th, one week after jury selection began.
First on the stand Monday was Jason Wycoff, a DNA analyst with the Missouri Highway Patrol's crime lab in Jefferson City. Wycoff testified that in 2007 he created a DNA profile from blood found on the car jack found covered with blood and hair in the back of Johns' sports car and from an intact sperm fraction taken from the vaginal swab taken at Johns' autopsy.
Wycoff said he was able to get a full DNA profile from the sperm fraction, but that it did not match Cody Wright, Johns' boyfriend at the time of her murder, nor anyone else's DNA profiles stored in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System database.
In August of 2007, a sample of Carnahan's DNA was collected with a search warrant at the businessman's office. Wycoff says that Carnahan's DNA profile was a match with the sample taken from Johns' body even with some visible degradation in the older profile.
The statistical chance of the DNA belonging to any other Caucasian person is about 1 in 6.039 quadrillion.
On cross examination defense attorney Joe Passanise asked Wycoff about a note at the crime lab from 1999 that indicated that a Springfield police detective told lab workers not to test the evidence because he was unsure where it had been, and that hair samples collected as evidence was missing. Wycoff said the evidence he observed and tested seemed okay.
Passanise asked the lab analyst if the sperm taken during Johns' autopsy could have been there for at least a week. Wycoff said the probability was likely three to four days.
The state rested it's case.
Defense attorneys then called two witness who went the 7-Eleven at the night Johns disappeared who testified they did not see Carnahan's truck parked in front of the English Village mobile home park between 9:30 and 11:00 p.m.
Craig Patterson and Rita Swofford testified they were with a a group of friends who were returning home when they stopped at the convenience store after a trip to the Hydra Slide in Springfield.
Another witness, Bill Jenkins, testified that he witnessed seeing a car and a truck very similar to Carnahan's parked on the shoulder of 160 that night, but the time was unclear because he drove past that spot between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. and again between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. He testified he saw three people surrounding the car on the earlier trip. He said none of those people looked like Johns or Carnahan.
The defense next called Rita Sanders. Sander is a former police officer with both SPD and the Christian County Sheriff's Office. Sanders is now an attorney in Springfield.
Sanders said she witnessed 10 to 15 boxes labeled "Jackie Johns" kept in the "tremendously hot" property room at the sheriff's office, but never opened them. At one point, she testified that she took photographs of other evidence room because of concerns that evidence was being improperly handled.
Sanders admitted during cross examination that she did not look inside the boxes and had no idea what was stored inside of them.
The last witness called on Monday was Sara Collins, Gerald Carnahan's former stepdaughter.
She testified, reluctantly, that she and Gerry had dinner at the Repair Shop as her mother was out of town. She said she dropped him off at home and then went shopping for 45 minutes for a curling iron.
She said her stepfather was at home Carnahan when she got back about 9:30 p.m. and was there until she went to bed about 11-11:15 p.m. "If he left I was not aware of it," she said.
Collins was indicted by a grand jury for perjury in 1986 regarding her testimony about Carnahan's whereabouts on the night Johns' went missing, but was later acquitted at a bench trial.
"So it's possible he left while you were asleep and you did not know it?" Moore asked during cross-examination, to which Collins replied: "That's true."
On redirect Wampler asked Collins -- who has testified in the past that Carnahan did not leave if she thought he could have left the house without waking her. "I think I would have heard it," she said.
The jury could be deciding Gerald Carnahan's fate by the time we go to press Tuesday September 21st.