Blood on Gulbertson not identified as Morrow’s
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 27, 2010
FARIBAULT — The blood found on Chad Jamie Gulbertson’s jeans, leather jacket and shoe seized the day of Jody Lee Morrow’s death did not match with a DNA profile for Morrow, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testified on Monday.
The samples had either a positive DNA profile match to Gulbertson or else could not be linked with a DNA profile, said scientist Katharine Lentz-Lockhart, during what was the sixth day of testimony at the Rice County Courthouse in the homicide case against Gulbertson, who faces five murder charges in Morrow’s death.
Morrow was found dead inside her trailer June 21, 2009, after Gulbertson reportedly came into the Law Enforcement Center and reported to police he thought he had killed his former girlfriend.
Later that day, police seized the clothes he was wearing, along with several items from the trailer and other locations in connection with the case.
Regarding specific results, Lentz-Lockhart said the blood samples found on Gulbertson’s leather jacket and on one pant leg of his jeans matched with a DNA profile of Gulbertson.
She was unable to make a conclusion about blood samples found on the other pant leg of the jeans and on the shoe. It is possible this was because the sample was too small or there was not enough genetic information in it, she said.
She noted if there was blood on a piece of clothing and then someone washed that piece of clothing, this action could reduce the total amount of DNA on the clothing item. She can also not determine how long blood has been on an item.
Lentz-Lockhart said blood found on the head of the ball-peen hammer that was found next to Morrow’s body in her trailer matched Morrow’s DNA profile, but did not match Gulbertson’s.
She said the amount of Morrow’s blood that was on the hammer could diffuse any skin cells that may have been on there first, but if there was blood from two people on the hammer then DNA from two people would have been present.
Blood samples were only able to be obtained from the head of the hammer because the handle had to be preserved for latent fingerprint testing.
She said no DNA profile was able to be obtained from the blood found on a chef’s style knife also obtained from the trailer. This could have been because there wasn’t enough of a sample to generate a profile, she noted.
BCA forensic scientist Martin Koolen testified that no latent fingerprints that were suitable for comparison to Morrow’s and Gulbertson’s prints could be found on the ball-peen hammer, five knives and two tools seized mostly seized from Morrow’s trailer.
Koolen said he tested the entire hammer and found no identifiable latent prints.
When talking about the knives and tools, he said he did not see any evidence of the objects being wiped. There were some fragmented areas of residual prints on these items.
He noted factors that contribute to how a print is left on an object include if the object was dirty, how much pressure was exerted on the object, whether the person’s grip slipped when he or she was holding it and what the surface is of the object. A smooth surface is better likely to get a print.
He said he also analyzed a phone handset and cords obtained from the trailer and found no prints — or smudges — of any kind on them. These were not tested until April 6, 2010 — while the other items were tested in September 2009 — so there is a chance those prints could have dried.
The longer prints sit, the harder it is to recover them, he said.
BCA forensic scientist Katherine Igowsky said through her testing she found there were 38 human hairs not suitable for nuclear DNA testing and one animal hair on the ball-peen hammer.
A hair that is not suitable for nuclear DNA testing is one that does not have roots and was either broken off or shed naturally.
Igowsky said there was one human hair on Gulbertson’s shoe that appeared to have shed naturally.
There were also 11 human hairs that were cut or broken that were found on Morrow’s left hand, and four human hairs that were cut or broken found on her right hand. Fifteen similar human hairs were found on her night shirt.
When hairs are not suitable for nuclear DNA testing, scientists cannot determine who they belonged to or if they belonged to more than one person.
Alcohol and drug testing
Forensic toxicology specialist Donna Zittel testified that a blood sample obtained from Morrow on June 22, 2009, tested negative for alcohol or other drugs of abuse, including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, among others.
A urine sample obtained from Gulbertson June 21, 2009, tested negative for alcohol but positive for the presence of cannabinoids, commonly known as marijuana. Gulbertson’s blood sample, obtained that same day also tested positive for this.
She said from the test she performed she was only able to determine that there was “recent use” of the drug, but could not pinpoint a specific number of hours or days prior to testing that this might have occurred.
Zittel said the amount of time a drug remains in a person’s system depends on the frequency of use, the amount used, how that person used it and how pure the drug is.
Through additional testing, BCA forensic scientist Mumtaz Pasha said she was able to determine the more specific quantity of marijuana and its metabolites found in Gulbertson’s blood.
From what she found, she likewise confirmed the marijuana was ingested “very recently,” a time frame she estimated of between six and eight hours earlier. However, this could be longer if the amount he used was larger.
Gulbertson’s blood was drawn just before 8:30 p.m. June 21, 2009; he came into the Law Enforcement Center around noon that day with his father.