Fingerprint evidence in Brown's murder trial

September 3, 2009 3:00:31 PM PDT
Prosecutors offered palm and fingerprint evidence Thursday in the trial of James Degorski. He is accused of killing seven people at a Palatine restaurant in 1993. Each day of this trial has begun with brief testimony with one of the victims' relatives. Thursday it was a sister of Rico Solis who testified that the last time she saw her brother alive was at school that day at Palatine High School. She saw him in the hall. This seems to be an attempt to remind jurors about the victims in this case as much as the testimony.

Day four of the trial, and prosecutors focused on finger print evidence from the crime scene. James Degorski is accused of killing seven people at the Brown's Chicken and Pasta in 1993.

At least 163 finger and palm prints were found at the scene. John Onstwedder testified most of the day, beginning with a lesson as to how to match prints. Onstwedder led a team of forensic scientists from the Illinois State Police Crime Lab analyzing prints from the scene and comparing them to suspects and victims. No prints matched James Degorski.

Onstwedder testified about a partial palm print found on a napkin.

"The conclusion was that the unknown latent palm print was made by the person who made the ink print standard, Juan Antonio Luna," Onstwedder said.

Juan Luna was convicted for the murders at Brown's in 2007. Luna and Degorski were high school friends who allegedly robbed the Brown's, killing five restaurant employees and the owners.

Prosecutors asked whether wearing gloves could have prevented a suspect leaving prints. Onstwedder testified wearing gloves would inhibit leaving an impression.

Wednesday, a friend of Degorski, Eileen Bakalla, testified that she saw gloves in Luna's car when she met Degorski and Luna the night of the murders.

Thursday, under cross examination, Onstwedder testified that many of the critical prints were never identified, including prints found on the cash register.

On redirect, that second questioning by prosecutors, Onstwedder testified that 59 of the 163 fingerprints found at the scene were not matched to anyone. However, he explained, because they're not matched doesn't mean that people are excluded. For example, those fingerprints found on the cash register may have been that of the owner's or the employees of the restaurant, but it is not a clear match.

The jurors have Friday off and the Monday holiday off. The trial resumes on Tuesday.


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