Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Expert testifies on DNA in double murder
The judge denied a defense motion for a mistrial, based on a statement made by a witness.
By ED RUNYAN
WARREN The O.J. Simpson murder case was marked by its bloody glove; the Jermaine McKinney case may be remembered for its bloody boots.
Testimony today from Brenda Gerardi, a scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, showed that a pair of size 10 Timberland boots found at McKelvey Lake in Youngstown on Dec. 23 contained the DNA of Jermaine McKinney and homicide victims Wanda Rollyson and Rebecca Cliburn.
Gerardi said the boots, which were also found with a 30-inch crowbar, had blood or sweat on them that came from Rollyson, Cliburn and McKinney.
From the expert
She broke down the likelihood that the fluids were from those people this way:
* The chance that one type of blood found there came from anyone but Rollyson was one in 23 quintillion people (thousands of times the world's population).
* The chance that another type of blood found on the boots came from anyone but Cliburn was one in 1.5 billion people. The world population is 6.5 billion people.
* The chance that sweat from inside the boots came from anyone but McKinney was one in 813 million people. The U.S. population is 300 million people.
DNA taken from the crowbar was from Wanda Rollyson, Gerardi testified. The chance it came from anyone else was, again, 1 in 23 quintillion.
Meanwhile, a cigarette butt found near a furnace room where Rollyson's and Cliburn's bodies were 70 percent to 80 percent burned had DNA on it from McKinney, Gerardi testified. The chances of it being anyone else's DNA is one in 57 quintillion, she said.
McKinney is on trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, charged with the slayings of Rollyson and Cliburn in a Newton Township home last December. If convicted, he faces the death penalty, partly because of the state's multiple-homicide statute and because the slayings were committed during an aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and aggravated arson, according to the indictment against McKinney.
Defense lawyer's focus
On cross-examination, defense lawyer Donald Malarcik of Akron ignored all of the evidence pointing to McKinney's role in the death of Rollyson, 70, and her 45-year-old daughter and instead focused on any evidence that might have shown that another person, Keyatta Riley Hines, contributed to the women's deaths.
Hines, 21, of Warren has admitted helping McKinney get rid of evidence in the house, but denies having done anything to harm the women.
Malarcik asked Gerardi whether two other samples, a knife recovered in McKelvey Lake and a sweat shirt from another possible accomplice, Jazzmine McIver, 22, of Warren, were tested to determine whose DNA was on them.
Gerardi said the DNA found did not match any of the four people whose DNA samples were submitted: McKinney, Rollyson, Cliburn and Nathan Vargo, son of Rebecca Cliburn and a one-time suspect.
But Gerardi agreed that there was no way to tell whether any of the DNA belonged to Riley Hines, because her DNA sample was never gathered.
Malarcik has consistently called into question Riley Hines' role in the crime. He has questioned her about her criminal history and inconsistent statements, and questioned whether physical evidence from a bedsheet indicates she handled a piece of fabric that was used to bind and gag Cliburn before her death.
The prosecution rested its case at the conclusion of Gerardi's testimony. Now McKinney's defense may present its case.
Judge W. Wyatt McKay, the common pleas court judge hearing the case, ruled today against a defense motion asking to declare a mistrial on the basis of a remark Riley Hines made during her testimony Friday, in which she mentioned that she had taken a polygraph test. This information was not admissable.
In earlier testimony today, David Wilson, a hostage negotiator with the Youngstown Police Department, told jurors that while he talked with Jermaine McKinney on New Year's Day as McKinney was being arrested, McKinney told him about cop shows and killing himself. All the while, McKinney was firing a shotgun, BB gun rifle and a handgun at officers trying to arrest him at 71 Halleck Street.
The barrage of gunfire was so severe that officers at one point got trapped behind a tree and had to be rescued by an armored vehicle.