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Prosecution rests case in Wallace trial

November 30, 2000

Prosecution rests case in Wallace trial



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


The prosecution rested its case Wednesday after the director of a private DNA testing laboratory testified that blood found on murder suspect Thomas Clifford Wallace's shorts matched the blood of the man he is accused of killing.

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"The frequency of this match being repeated in the population would be 1 in 143 million," Kevin McElfresh, vice president of Bode Technology Group in Springfield, Va., testified Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court.

McElfresh, who has a doctorate in molecular genetics, went through the lengthy testing procedure used to compare crime scene blood samples with those taken from Wallace, victim Darrius Allen Fetterhoff, and the late Clara Miller, who was once charged as a co-defendant in the case.

Those testing procedures came under fire when Brian Hutchinson, co-defense attorney, cross-examined McElfresh at length on the accuracy of the results.

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McElfresh vigorously defended his lab's reputation for accuracy and his lab technicians' adherence to accepted clinical procedures.

After the prosecution rested, a defense witness testified that hair samples found in the victim's car couldn't be matched to Wallace.

The trial resumes today and is expected to end today.

During Tuesday testimony, the lead investigator in the case said Wallace first denied knowing the victim but later admitted selling him drugs.

Cpl. Roy Harsh said Wallace also referred to Fetterhoff as a "trick," alluding to his regular trips to Hagerstown from Greencastle, Pa., to pick up prostitutes.

Wallace, 33, formerly of Hagerstown, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Fetterhoff.

Fetterhoff died Aug. 28, 1997, from injuries suffered eight days earlier along Broadfording Road.

First-day testimony revealed he was beaten, robbed and left for dead along Conococheague Creek on Aug. 20, 1997, according to court records.

When he was found at the bottom of an embankment several days later, Fetterhoff was alive. He later died from complications of his injuries.

Robert Kursey, a tow truck driver, testified Tuesday that he picked up Wallace and a woman, later identified as Miller, near the crime scene.

Miller, who had been Wallace's co-defendant in the murder case, was found dead in March 1998.

At one point in Harsh's 1997 interview of Wallace, the investigator testified Tuesday that Wallace began asking him questions.

"He wanted to know if Fetterhoff had made a complaint and whether there were any eyewitnesses to the assault," Harsh said.

Wallace also is charged with first-degree assault, felony theft, car theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Wallace, also known as James Thomas, is serving an 11-year sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown on an unrelated 1998 drug distribution conviction.

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