FBI Examiners and State Expert Called to Stand Monday

By: John DesRivieres Email
By: John DesRivieres Email

During the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Raul Ponce-Rocha, a trace evidence examiner from the FBI is on the stand.

Joshua Friedman explains how he examined hair from Breanna Schneller, Raul Ponce-Rocha, Hugo Ramirez and Sebastian Ramirez.

Friedman says he found Caucasian hair on the Ponce-Rocha’s sweatshirt. However it can’t be determined if it came from Breanna Schneller. He says any person can have hair of different length and it can also vary in color.

Hairs found in Breanna Schneller’s hands were her own. Friedman says no hair he found belonged to Raul Ponce-Rocha.

A State Crime Lab fingerprint and footwear examiner was called to testify. Karly Hujet analyzed 2 knives, a broken hair dryer, a broken iron, door assembly, a grocery bag, a cell phone, a battery cover of cell phone, a key card holder, a photograph, and a dish drying rack for fingerprints.

Prints on the key card holder matched left thumb of Hugo Ramirez.
Hujet noted washing hands could affect fingerprints afterwards.
Crime lab personnel were able to pull prints from the skin. The print was the partial palm print of Hugo Ramirez.

A lift from hallway light switch was the right little finger of Breanna Schneller.

Only the sink, key card holder and light switch had prints suitable for comparison.

She also says she was not able to find any finger prints belong to Ponce-Rocha.

Hujet also analyzed a bloody footprint on a bathroom mat. She says the footprint could have been made by a shoe similar to a pair owned by Raul Ponce-Rocha.

Leslie McCurdy, a Mitochondrial DNA expert from the FBI also takes the stand Monday. McCurdy explains that mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother and men cannot pass on mitochondrial DNA.
McCurdy and Friedman work together. McCurdy gets evidence from the trace evidence unit and analyzes for DNA.

Hair taken from Raul Ponce-Rocha’s sweatshirt was compared to DNA from Breanna Schneller, Raul Ponce-Rocha, Hugo Ramirez and Sebastian Ramirez. Since Sebastian and Hugo have the same mother, they share the same mitochondrial DNA and only one sample was tested because of that.

McCurdy says the hair is a match to Breanna Schneller. However, mitochondrial DNA is not 100% positive in determining who the hair belongs to. McCurdy says there is a small possibility Schneller is not the source.

McCurdy says his conclusion is the same, DNA on the hair matches DNA from Schneller.

Lisa Misner a DNA Analyst from the State Crime Lab, analyzed evidence from the scene including knives from the sink, items from the dumpster behind El Tequila Salsa; including a bag, a cellphone, and mismatched gloves.

She said the one of the gloves had a blood stain below the ring finger area. DNA from the glove was compared to profiles from Breanna Schneller, Hugo and Sebastian Ramirez, Raul Ponce-Rocha, and the co-worker Ponce-Rocha went to pick-up, Luciano Sanchez-Ramos.
The glove contained a mixture of DNA from both Breanna Schneller and Raul Ponce-Rocha.

Two large kitchen knives also contained a mixture of DNA from Schneller and the Ramirez brothers. A smaller kitchen knife contained DNA from Schneller with Hugo Ramirez being a minor contributor.
Only Breanna Schneller DNA was found on her cell phone.

A plastic bag found in the dumpster behind El Tequila Salsa tests positive for blood. Both Ponce-Rocha and Schneller are contributors to DNA on the bag.

While examining Schneller fingernails for DNA, she says the DNA from her left hand belonged solely to Raul Ponce-Rocha.

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