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Blood, prints focus of testimony

December 04, 1997

Blood, prints focus of testimony

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The blood of Jennifer Folmar and Eric M. Turner were mingled on the same coat and Turner's fingerprint was found on the door of her car, according to evidence presented by the prosecution Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Turner and Pernell J. Sellers, both of Hagerstown, are charged with the murder of Folmar in a five-count federal indictment that alleges the killing was committed in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise involving a crack cocaine ring.

Folmar, 23, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., was found shot three times in the head and stabbed 11 times in the neck and body on the night of Oct. 24, 1996 in her locked car in Shepherdstown, W.Va. She died the next day at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.

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Trooper Stephen King, a West Virginia State Police expert on fingerprints, told the jury that a latent print from Turner's left middle finger was found on the driver's side window of Folmar's white 1982 Camaro. King said eight points of identification are required for a positive identification from a fingerprint, but he found 22 points in common from the print and one submitted by Turner.

King testified that he could not find any identifiable fingerprints on the .25-caliber Colt pistol used to kill Folmar, or on a pair of latex gloves found the day after the shooting. The gloves were found on Ray Street, around the corner from where Folmar was found.

He added that it was relatively rare that a fingerprint could be lifted from either a gun or gloves.

The prosecution has contended that Turner was seen wearing a surgical glove on his right hand before the killing, but said in opening statements that the gloves police found were not related to the crime.

Defense attorney Stephen Herndon got King to admit that the car was covered with handprints that could not be linked to Turner. Sellers' attorney, Harry Smith, also noted that his client's fingerprints could not be found on the car.

Under cross-examination by Herndon, King said he had asked for complete handprints and fingerprints from about half a dozen other men who were nearby when Folmar was killed, but they were not supplied by police. King said several of the other prints on the car were clear enough to be used for identification purposes.

State police forensic DNA analyst Dave Miller told the jury that he found Turner's and Folmar's blood on a white leather coat recovered near the murder scene the night she was shot and stabbed. Their blood was mingled on the inside cuff of the right sleeve, he said.

Miller said there was a 9.8 million-to-1 chance that the blood sample identified as Folmar's could belong to someone else. He testified the odds on Turner's sample were much longer.

Miller said he would have to test 3.58 billion African-Americans before he would see that result again.

Miller said Folmar's blood was also found on the grip of the gun and inside the muzzle of the weapon. West Virginia Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Frost testified earlier in the day that the two most lethal shots into Folmar's head were "contact wounds," where the gun had been in contact with her head when it was fired.

Sgt. John R. Giacalone, a state police forensic chemist, testified that gunpowder residue was found on the sleeve and several other places on the coat.

Herndon said on cross-examination that gunpowder residue can remain on clothing for years, according to an FBI study involving hunters.

"Does that look like a hunting coat to you?" U.S. Assistant Attorney Robert McWilliams asked Giacalone. He replied it did not.

Herndon pointed out a number of inconsistencies in the prosecution's physical evidence, including the blood sample allegedly taken from Folmar at Jefferson Memorial Hospital. She died Oct. 25 at the hospital, but the blood sample was dated Oct. 26.

Medical technologist William Moore took the sample and claimed he had accidentally mislabeled the vial of blood.

Herndon noted that Giacalone received a gunpowder residue kit that was tested on another man who may have been connected with the case. Giacalone said the kit was not compatible with testing equipment at the state police laboratory and no analysis was done on the samples.

Miller said during cross-examination that the state laboratory does only one type of DNA testing when Herndon asked whether two other tests had been performed.

None of the forensic evidence presented Wednesday linked Sellers to the murder.

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