BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES:
A Juror’s Plight
THE CARNATION MURDER TRIAL of MICHELE ANDERSON
February 4, 2016
“PLEOCHROISM AND THE JURY”
Forensic scientist, Christopher Hamburg returned to the stand. It was his third day of testimony in the Carnation murder trial. He was dressed professionally in a gray suit with a matching gray oxford shirt complimented with a maroon-striped tie. He leaned toward the microphone as he spoke while also looking at the jury. He answered questions from Scott O’Toole, the prosecutor, comfortably and confidently.
Scott was wearing a tapered black suit coat, brown slacks and a light blue shirt finished with a silk blue tie. He was at ease in front of the jury and was interesting to watch as he moved from one piece of evidence to the next, almost effortlessly, with Michelle Morales, the second prosecutor, orchestrating the continual stream of slides shown to the jurors.
“We were talking about the pillow found over the legs of Olivia and I wanted to revisit one item,” Scott began. “You testified that you had discovered a bullet inside the pillow. Is that right?”
“I did,” Scott answered. “I felt the item but did not remove it.”
“Very good,” Scott said as he glanced at his notes. “We talked about a number of bullets and casings recovered yesterday. We referred to the bullet found in the window as, Bullet A. The second bullet, found under Erica Anderson and the loveseat was designated to be, Bullet B. The third bullet, recovered from inside the television was called, Bullet C. The undesignated bullet, Bullet D, was the one never recovered. Does this sound accurate?”
“It does,” Chris confirmed. “Bullet D was not designated because it exited from the dining room window. The terrain slopes upwards with many trees. Despite many searches, it was not found.”
“So, let me ask you this. How do you know that the hole in the window was made from a bullet?”
“We tested the perimeter of the hole for the presence of lead, a component of all bullets,” Hamburg stated.
“Was the test positive for lead?”
“Yes,” he answered. “We then determined that the bullet came from inside the house instead of outside by looking at the properties of the hole.”
“How did you determine the direction?”
“When a bullet hits glass, one side of impact will remain flat while the other will exhibit cratering signs. The flat side of the impact mark was on the inside of the house indicating it was not fired from outside.”
Scott O’Toole directed Michelle Morales to forward the next slide. “The next bullet, Bullet E, was found in the laundry room. Can you tell us how it arrived there?”
“We used a trajectory stick to trace its path. The bullet entered the wall from the kitchen near the refrigerator. After passing through the wall, it came to rest on a wire rack in the laundry room, in between some boxes, and, specifically, inside a Ziploc bag box.”
“At what trajectory?” Scott asked.
“It came in at a three to five degree angle downward,” the scientist replied.
At the conclusion of questioning, David Sorenson took the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. He was wearing a charcoal gray colored suit with a blue shirt and blue-striped tie. He placed his notes on the podium and adjusted his glasses.
“I have just a couple of questions for you,” Sorenson began. “I would like to start by discussing some aspects of your training. In a list of professional courses that you have taken throughout your career, your records indicate you took a course on jury selection. Is that correct?”
“I did,” Hamburg agreed.
“Can you tell us a little more about that? What was the intent of the course?”
“It is standard for professionals in my field to take courses like that. There is a percentage of our time that involves testifying to our evidence. The course taught us how juries react to a variety of witnesses,” Hamburg explained.
“Are the courses meant to teach you how to react in a courtroom?”
“Basically, the course familiarized the student with various techniques on how to interact with those found in a courtroom, whether it be the jury, judge or attorneys.”
Sorenson nodded his head. “Moving on, sir, let’s talk a little more about Leuco Color Violet (LCV). You stated that it can react over time, giving varied results at a scene.”
“Yes,” Hamburg said. “We use the results of LCV reactions to blood within a short time after it is applied. It does change color over time.”
“What is that time frame?” Sorenson asked.
“I would say generally in three days. The existence of light, heat and humidity can expand the color changing properties.”
Sorenson glanced at his notepad and then back at the scientist. “Wouldn’t that affect DNA results later?”
“Although DNA is not my area of expertise, I would say, no, LCV does not affect DNA testing.”
“We spoke of DNA not being tested until 2009 and you told Mr. O’Toole that the length of time for DNA to be tested in this case was not atypical. Why would that be?”
“Given the great demand and sheer volume of testing, factors can push testing times back. Courts have backlogs and many samples are moved ahead of others depending upon a case’s appearance in court. Like I said, this is not atypical of DNA testing.”
David Sorenson paused for what seemed an extraordinary amount of time but was only thirty seconds. “Weren’t you planning on being part of the crime scene reconstruction in this case? At least at the time that you were collecting results at the scene, didn’t you anticipate the next step?”
“I did plan on doing the reconstruction. I received a job offer in Oregon in fall of 2008. I moved there so was not further involved in this investigation.”
“Other people were chosen to do the reconstruction, I take it,” Sorenson concluded. “Is that correct?”
“Do you know Ross Gardner?” Sorenson asked.
“Didn’t he do the crime scene reconstruction in this case?”
“How did you learn that?” Sorenson queried.
“A former co-worker informed me after I had gone to Oregon.”
“Did you ever speak with Gardner about this case?”
“No more questions,” Sorenson stated as he returned to his seat.
Scott O’Toole accepted the invitation re-cross the witness when offered by Judge Ramsdell. “Do you know where Mr. Gardner is from?”
“I do not know,” Hamburg answered.
“Doesn’t he teach courses in the study of forensics?”
“Yes, he does. I took a course from him once.”
“He has a private company now, doesn’t he?”
“Referencing this course that Mr. Sorenson discussed, the course on jury selection, was this class a study in how to present yourself as a witness in court? Is it uncommon to take a course in jury selection?” O’Toole queried.
“We receive training in all aspects of our job. This was part of it.”
“Has it ever caused you to change your testimony in front of a jury?”
“Can you tell the jury what you learned in this course?” O’Toole asked as he pointed toward the jury box.
Hamburg looked at the jurors when he spoke. “The course taught us what we were expected to do on a witness stand focusing on how we spoke. We learned to avoid saying, “um”, when we spoke. We needed to present ourselves professionally and watch our diction. Basically it taught us how to be comfortable on the witness stand by answering questions in a clear and concise manner.”
“How many times have you testified in a case in your career?” O’Toole asked.
Chris Hamburg thought about it for a moment. “Maybe ten times.”
“Just one more concern,” Scott said. “In your experience, had LCV ever changed DNA after its use?”
“Not that I am aware of,” Hamburg responded.
The prosecution brought forward Margaret Barber who worked for the crime lab in Marysville, Washington. She had twenty years of experience in microanalysis and the study of trace evidence, which focused specifically on the analysis of paint, fibers, hairs and shoe impressions. She was dressed comfortably in dark green pants with a pink blouse and an aqua colored coat. She, too, had a large three-ring binder of evidence in front of her.
The jury went on a journey of a murder under a microscope. Pieces of fiber were presented to her in envelopes much like the evidence that had been presented through Chris Hamburg. The dance of having the evidence introduced continued like previous days, with the witness carefully inspecting the envelope determining its chain of custody from the scene to the witness stand. Once Barber confirmed it was the evidence she had examined, while a simultaneous picture displayed on the screen for the jury, O’Toole brought the item to David Sorenson and then back up the Court Clerk. Judge Ramsdell would give his seal of approval on the evidence before the testimony continued.
The lambs to the law were used to the process and waited patiently as each piece of fiber was entered into court records.
Fibers from the dining room, recovered from the top of the dining room table and from the floor underneath, had been analyzed by Margaret Barber. It included a physical examination and focused on microscopic examination. Each fiber was determined to be unique to a specific item in the living room. In a close-up look at the fiber, grains of gunshot residue could be seen. It was determined that the fiber was cotton and the lengths of fibers fit inside holes found on the shirt of Wayne Anderson.
A Hot Rod decaled t-shirt was shown in front of the jury. Two holes were seen in the shoulder while two were seen in the right sleeve. The shirt, originally white, was stained brown. The shirt had been cut in half only the front of it seen by the jury.
The next fibers were recovered from the tip of a hollow-point bullet recovered from a wire rack in the laundry room. The wire rack held boxes and the bullet was found inside a Ziploc bag box. The fibers were extricated from the tip of the bullet with tweezers and analyzed.
There would be jurors who have been surprised at the amazing amount of detail that fiber analysis study required. Margaret Barber did a good job of tutoring the jurors in the steps taken to match fibers to items found on a crime scene. The fiber’s origin was as important as the place it was found. Each fiber, of the hundred found in the tip of a hollow-point bullet, were separated and placed under a variety of microscopes. They were then exposed to a variety of light angles and well as viewing angles.
“Why, in this sample, are the colors different than from the last sample?” O’Toole asked, while a pink colored fiber was shown on the screen.
“We use a variety of lights to determine the origin of a fiber, to ensure one fiber is the same or different than the next. We take a control sample and then subject the control sample and its unique characteristics against the specimen being studied. For example, using polarized light, we find that the specimen changes colors from light that comes from a variety of directions. We call it pleochroism,” Barber explained.
“Pleochrosim? Can you explain that again?” O’Toole asked.
“It is the property of a fiber of showing different color reactions when polarized light is shown through it from a variety of angles. It serves to make a fiber specific with itself and fibers that show the same reaction can be interpreted as being a source fiber,” she explained.
“What is the definition of a fiber?” O’Toole asked.
“It is an item that is one hundred times longer than it is wide.”
Scott nodded, referenced his notes and asked, “So, in the bullet that was found in the laundry room, Bullet E, were you able to determine its source?”
“I was,” she answered, turning a page in her notebook. “The fibers did not match those of Erica but rather of Judith Anderson. The fibers of the white sweatshirt she was wearing matched the fibers exactly to the fibers found in the tip of the bullet. Scientific and microscopic tests showed them to be consistent with each other.”
The prosecutor than walked toward the Court Clerk and recovered a sizable package and brought it to the witness. She spent time opening the package and then spread the shirt open for the jury to see. The hooded white sweatshirt clearly evidenced four defects in it with two holes in the front and two in the back. The recovered white fibers were shown to have fit inside the holes. The jurors would have remembered Judith’s body being found in the shed but none had seen the bullet holes until the shirt was opened in front of them.
The jurors did not need an explanation of what the brown stains were in the sweatshirt.
It had been a long morning of fabric analysis and it was certainly not the most exciting testimony that the juror’s had seen. It was a detailed and slow process and they were grateful when Scott O’Toole called his next witness to the stand in the late afternoon.
“Your next witness?” Judge Ramsdell encouraged.
“Yes, Your Honor,” Scott O’Toole said. He strolled out of the courtroom while the jurors waited silently. He was back moments later and the ambience in the courtroom changed almost immediately.
Joel Hardin walked toward the witness stand as he removed his cowboy hat to be sworn in. He was wearing a gray suit with a blue shirt. He had black cowboy boots on. Jurors would remember him as the person who had trained an earlier witness, Kathleen Barber, a master tracker.
He reminded me of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in many ways. One could tell he had been in the business of police work for a long time and exuded confidence on the witness stand. One would not have been surprised if he had said he had been a Texas Ranger, although he had not.
“Can you give us a snapshot of your career?” Scott O’Toole asked.
“I’ve been in police work for fifty years beginning in 1960 as an Idaho Police Officer. In 1965, I began work with the U.S. Border Patrol, tracking illegals and doing transportation checks. I eventually began working at the Canadian border performing the same sort of tasks. I think that was in 1972 and after ten years, I was hired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” he explained.
I watched the jury and each was sitting on the edge of their seats. Juries love evidence that they can see, touch and feel and this witness was a far cry from the tediousness of fabric analysis.
“How long have you been tracking?” O’Toole asked.
“I began learning about it in 1965 with the Border patrol,” he said. His voice was a little gruff. “I liked the job because it kept me away from the office and in the field. I like putting bad guys in a good place: behind bars.”
Some of the jurors smiled.
“Did you go to school to study tracking?”
The witness laughed. “Oh, no. It is all on the job training. You are taught the science of tracking through experienced officers.”
“Is there a demand for the study of tracking?” O’Toole prodded.
“There will always be a demand for it,” Hardin said. “I have a private company called, ‘Joel Hardin Tracking Services’ and this is all we do. We train military, police officers, and search & rescue teams how to track someone. We still teach Navy Seals how to do it.”
“Is there a process to become certified?”
“Yes,” Hardin said. “We are the only company that specializes in this field. There are strict guidelines to advance to each level. We set the standards and are endorsed on a collegiate level, as well as, by police departments and search & rescue teams throughout the country.”
“Is there a difference between criminal investigations or missing person’s searches?”
Hardin shook his head. “They are usually related. A missing person’s search oftentimes has a criminal element to it so the differences are small.”
“What is the definition of tracking,” O’Toole asked. It was as if he were holding a conversation with him, the questions were fluid and natural.
“We follow signs that human beings leave when passing from one place to another.”
“Would you consider tracking a science?”
“I would. We use scientific principles in an uncontrolled environment. It can be outside in the woods or it can be inside at a crime scene. The same principles apply. There was a discussion going back to 1965 when we questioned whether tracking was a science or an art. I think it is a science,” Hardin said, chuckling at a memory fifty years prior.
“Can you give us an idea of what you do?”
“Let me explain it this way,” he began. “Our eyes only see twenty-percent of what actually is there. Commonly, one would see a footprint and not recognize it. That’s because we do not understand what we are looking at much less whether we are seeing a footprint. We always leave signs of our movement whether we are wearing shoes, boots, socks, or even have a prosthetic leg. We can go back five years to a scene of a crime and find evidence that investigators did not find. It is specific what we are looking for, but one has to learn what to look for. Without training, investigators will miss these things,” he said engagingly.
Scott looked at his notes and turned a page, stepping toward the witness. “You were called to a scene in Carnation, Washington in December of 2007?”
Hardin turned in his chair toward the jurors. “I was called on Christmas day by Detective Decker. I was informed that there were six murders and she wanted my assistance on the scene. I met her in Carnation along with some of the deputies who were there. We had six trackers and we broke up into three teams of two to search the property.”
“What were you looking for?”
“We knew at that time that we had two suspects. We obtained their footwear and made pencil sketches of the soles of the footwear,” he explained.
O’Toole cocked his head a little. “Pencil sketches? Why not use pictures?”
Hardin shook his head as if he was speaking to a naïve novice. “It does not work that way. We can look at a picture but glossiness will affect what we see. What we want to do is to commit the pattern to memory and the best way to do it is to draw a sketch of it. The act of drawing betters the memory.”
“So, in December of 2007, you were aware of the impressions you were looking for, those of Joseph McEnroe and Michele Anderson?”
“Yep,” he said. “They were the only people alive at the scene when the murders occurred. It was logical that we begin from there.”
“Did you find foot impressions of the defendant and of Joseph McEnroe at both addresses, 1910 and 1806, in late 2007?”
“We found numerous impressions outside,” he answered.
“Did you investigate the inside of the home of Wayne Anderson?” O’Toole asked.
“We did,” Hardin answered.
Scott O’Toole looked at the clock. “I think this might be a good time to recess for the weekend,” he suggested toward Judge Ramsdell.
The Judge saw it was 4:00, admonished the jury not to investigate the case in any way and dismissed them for the weekend.
The jurors would have to wait for the continuation of the testimony of Joel Hardin. It would be a cliffhanger for them throughout their three days of respite from murder.
I thought of pleochroism and the value of a witness shining different colors upon the interpretation of the crime scene. Somewhere in the story of the murders of six members of one family, this witness would show the jury things they would never have thought to look for.
Juries love evidence they can see, touch and feel and they looked forward to the return of Joel Hardin. They were starving for answers and forward progress and the master tracker looked as if he would feed them well.
Paul Sanders is the author of “BRAIN DAMAGE: A Juror’s Tale – The Hammer Killing Trial” and “WHY NOT KILL HER: A Juror’s Perspective – The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial”, both of which are available on Amazon. The author began his True Crime writing career after being deliberating death penalty juror #13 in the State of Arizona vs. Marissa DeVault in 2014. Paul reported daily on the Carnation Murder Trial daily with Trial Talk Live’s Jarrett Seltzer. The interviews may be found in the archive section of Trial Talk Live. This work is a draft of the upcoming book: “BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES: A Juror’s Plight – The Carnation Murder Trial of Michele Anderson”.
The sentencing of Michele Anderson is scheduled for April 21, 2016.
This work is copyrighted by Paul Sanders.
Pictures courtesy of Paul Sanders, KOMO-TV, KIRO-TV, State of Washington Prosecutor’s Office.
Facebook: Paul Sanders