DALLAS (CBS11) – The focus turns to forensic evidence in the Antonio Cochran murder trial– along with the `real life’ limits of DNA.
Cochran is charged with capital murder in the October 2015 death of Zoe Hastings.
The 18-year-old stopped to return a Redbox movie on her way to church. Her body was found the following morning lying near the family mini van, which had been dumped in a nearby creek bed. A Dallas police investigator testified Monday that she appeared to have been sexually assaulted.
A series of experts testified about hair and DNA samples recovered from the scene. Time and again jurors heard that their findings “could not exclude” Cochran; but, they could not with absolutely certainty testify to the source of those hairs, either.
When pressed by defense attorney Paul Johnson, one such expert Gloria Jean Dimick was asked to respond to the following:
Johnson: “There’s not a single item recovered from this case that you can say is more than likely to be attributed to the person known as Antonio Cochran?
Dimick: To link it to a specific individual… No, we cannot.”
Jurors also heard from a second witness. Gary Whitman told jurors that he was homeless in October 2015 and often lived in the area where Hastings was last seen alive.
Whitman’s testimony in many regards mirrors that of tattoo artist Lester Clark.
On Monday, Clark also told jurors that a man crossed the parking lot and grabbed the door of Hastings’ mini van as she was tring to close it. But on Friday, Whitman added some additional details, suggesting that the man that approached Hastings was armed.
“She acted like she was trying to get away,” said Whitman. “I seen him reach in his pocket…and the next thing I know, she kind of give in and got in the car.”
Johnson on cross examination pressed Whitman about his extensive criminal history, drug use and ability to see the the incident clearly.
Whitman continued to insist that he came forward because it was the “right thing to do.” He also acknowledged that he never saw the man’s face.
Whitman told jurors that he had an active warrant for his arrest and was taken into custody following his testimony.
Trial testimony resumes on Tuesday.