Thursday, December 18, 2014

Prosecutor attempts DNA link to saliva on underwear

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Staff Writer | 3/5/2013

Eric Scrutchfield’s DNA profile matched DNA found on one pair of a then-4-year-old girl’s underwear, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensics scientist testified Tuesday during the fifth day of Scrutchfield’s jury trial.

Scrutchfield, a former Franklin County employee, faces three felony charges in connection with a sexual assault he is alleged to have committed against a girl at his wife’s day care sometime between late March and May 2011.

Lance Antle, a KBI forensics scientist and DNA expert court witness, testified Tuesday morning that DNA found on one of five stains tested on two pairs of underwear matched Scrutchfield’s known DNA profile. Antle said the probability of the DNA found on the pair of underwear belonging to another Caucasian man was one in 18 million.

The KBI scientist said he tested five stains, three on one pair of underwear and two on another pair, which showed the presence of amylase. Antle testified amylase is most prominent in saliva, adding that the KBI was looking for the presence of amylase because the Ottawa Police Department reported an oral sexual assault had occurred.

Scrutchfield’s DNA profile was not positively matched to DNA samples collected from the other four stains tested by the KBI, nor in the three stains identified in a third pair of underwear that was tested by Genetic Technologies Inc., Kansas City, Mo., at the request of defense attorney John A. Boyd. Genetic Technologies also tested the other two pair of underwear the KBI tested.

Antle explained that the KBI used an Identifier test kit to identify the donors of the DNA found in the stains. The victim’s DNA was found in all five stains. Genetic Technologies used a Yfiler test kit to look for the presence of male DNA in the stains. Antle said the Identifier kit is used to compare known DNA samples to samples collected from suspected crime scenes to try to find a complete profile that can either exclude or not exclude a possible suspect from being the DNA donor.

The Yfiler kit, he said, is more sensitive and will detect DNA the Identifier kit will not, but the Yfiler typically is not used to try to get a complete DNA profile.

Under Boyd’s cross examination, Antle testified that the Yfiler tests showed three partial male profiles were found in the first pair of underwear, four partial male profiles were found in the second pair and three partial male profiles in the third pair of underwear.

Antle testified the number of male DNA partial profiles found in the three pairs of underwear could have been second-hand transfer of DNA that could have occurred if the girl sat down on a chair, for example, and picked up the DNA of a male donor who also had sat in that chair.  

Amylase, Antle said, also is prevalent in fecal matter, and can be found in lesser degrees in urine, blood and other biological fluids.

Boyd put a hypothetical question to Antle, asking if Scrutchfield’s urine was present in front of a toilet that the girl had used, could that urine have soaked into the girl’s underwear if it had touched the floor while she was using the bathroom. He asked if skin cells from Scrutchfield’s hands could have transferred onto the girl’s underwear if he had helped her use the bathroom.

Antle said the transfer of Scrutchfield’s DNA was possible under both of those scenarios.

Yvonne Scrutchfield, Scrutchfield’s wife and owner of Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., had testified that with her husband acting as the back-up provider, it would not be unusual for her husband to help a child use the restroom if the child needed assistance.

But during his follow-up with the KBI scientist, prosecutor Jim McCabria, assistant Douglas County attorney, asked Antle if those scenarios were likely, given the high concentration of DNA found on the cutting sample that was about a square centimeter in size.

“No, it’s not likely,” Antle said, adding that such a large concentration of DNA typically would have been made by direct fluid contact, not through a contact transfer of DNA cells.

Because of the testing procedure, Boyd asked Antle if it was possible to determine whether the DNA collected from the cutting was located on the inside or outside of the underwear.

Antle said it was not possible to tell if the DNA came from the inside or outside of the underwear. He also told Boyd it was not possible to determine if the amylase found on the five stains was left there by saliva, fecal matter, urine or some other body fluid.

After the prosecution rested, Boyd started calling defense witnesses to the stand in the afternoon. They ranged from former Franklin County Commissioner Sue Farrell to Scrutchfield’s wife to two women whose daughters had attended the day care.

Farrell said she knew Scrutchfield when he was previously employed with Franklin County in its computer information technology department.

When asked if she thought Scrutchfield could have committed the alleged assault, Farrell said, “Absolutely not.”

Yvonne Scrutchfield testified it would not be unusual for her husband to come home on his lunch break and play games, put together puzzles and read to the children at her home business. Her day care had up to six children at any one time. She said the door to the nap room, where the 4-year-old’s assault was alleged to have taken place, always was kept open and the sleeping cots were kept the regulation two feet apart.

Cassie Myers, formerly with ECKAN’s Early Head Start program, of which the day care was a certified partner, said the day care was kept in good condition and met the program’s standards.

The two women whose daughters attended the day care both said their daughters never reported feeling threatened or uncomfortable going to the day care.

When asked by Boyd, both women said they were not contacted by police during the investigation.

The prosecutor opted not to cross-examine Yvonne Scrutchfield or the two women whose daughters attended the day care.

Boyd’s DNA expert witnesses are expected to take the stand Wednesday morning when the trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. in Franklin County District Court.

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