First Week of Cooperstown Murder Trial Over; Jury Hears From BCI Agent, DNA ExpertCOOPERSTOWN, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The first week of the Daniel Wacht murder trial is over. Wacht is accused of killing and decapitating NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson on New Year's Eve 2010 in Cooperstown.
By: David Schwab, WDAZ
COOPERSTOWN, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The first week of the Daniel Wacht murder trial is over. Wacht is accused of killing and decapitating NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson on New Year's Eve 2010 in Cooperstown.
On Friday the jury saw evidence found in Wacht's home a few days after he was arrested.
For most of the morning and into the afternoon, it was BCI agent Shelby Franklin on the stand, where he showed evidence he and other investigators found in garbage bags inside of Daniel Wacht's home.
Those items included a blood-stained pillow and fabric removed from a sofa that was brought into the courtroom for the jurors to see.
"We both observed what appeared to be blood stains where the fabric had remained on the cut side of the removed portion," Franklin said.
Jurors were also shown boots and coveralls with dirt on them. BCI agent Franklin says it was those soiled items on a winter's day that led them to a basement crawl space where they would find Kurt Johnson's head buried and in a plastic bad.
"There was mud and there was three feet of snow everywhere and the deputy had a light bulb go on and recalled seeing the crawl space beneath the house and brought that to my attention," Franklin said.
A picture of that crawl space was shown on a large courtroom monitor along with a footprint that Franklin said looked a lot like those on the boots he found.
Franklin says once he started to dig in the dirt floor of the crawl space, it was clear someone had just buried something.
"We observed dirt that you could still see it had moisture in the dirt. It was more fluffy and it was disturbed," Franklin said.
Later Friday afternoon, the focus was on possible DNA left on parts of a 9mm handgun. Via the Internet on the courtroom monitor, prosecutors talked with a DNA expert from Dallas where the DNA swabs from the gun were sent for testing.
Wacht's attorney Steven Mottinger questioned the reliability of the DNA test because of the very small amount of DNA that was said to be on the weapon.
Mottinger also questioned BCI Officers about the quality of their evidence collection after other items were found in the home after the search was complete, including a shovel that had been lodged under a chair and later found by Wacht's ex-roommate's family.