DNA analyst can't conclude Lister bled on Eacker's pants

Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The defense in the Jimmy Eacker murder trial rested its case Monday, and closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning. The jury will begin deliberation as soon as closing arguments are complete.

In its final day calling witnesses, the defense brought in DNA analysis experts from Ventura, Calif., who conducted tests independent of the Alaska State Crime Lab's tests on Eacker's pants and on vaginal washings obtained from Toni Lister.

Eacker was charged with killing Lister more than 20 years after her 1982 death because DNA analysis linked Lister's blood to Eacker's pants. Jessica Bickham, who was responsible for much of Technical Associates Inc.'s hands-on analysis of the evidence, testified Monday that blood was not easily found on the pants Eacker wore on March 6, 1982.

"Did Mrs. Lister bleed on the pants or not?" defense attorney Benjaman Adams asked Bickham.

"I can't answer that," Bickham testified. "I can't conclude that she did."

However, Bickham said several spots on the pants did test positive for blood and through genetic tests it can be reasonably concluded that it is Lister's blood on Eacker's pants.

Bickham said she identified two unique male DNA samples in the vials containing Lister's vaginal washings.

"I got a mixture of DNA from at least two males. I could not exclude the defendant and the other could have been my co-worker."

The defense asked Bickham if the DNA could be traced back to someone other than her co-worker, and she said that was a possibility. That's a critical possibility for the defense, because it keeps alive the potential of another suspect.

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com

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