Week one of Norwood Trail ends with more DNA evidence
Mark Norwood spent most of Friday listening to DNA experts testifies about hair samples that prosecutors claim links him to the 1988 murder of Debra Baker.
"It’s important because technology and science had an opportunity to catch up with his crime, so we've been able to use technology and science to go back and look at an old case with a different lens,” said Assistant DA Katie Sweeten.
One lens, Friday, turned out to be the screen of a laptop which was a first for Judge Julie Kocurek. DNA expert Gloria Dimick testified via skype because injuries from a car crash prevented her from being here in person. The extra effort was done to address concerns raised about an empty evidence bag that was supposed to contain a single strand of hair.
"The main thing is they want to have confidence in the process, and who has touched what and when,” said Sweeten.
The jury spent a big part of the day learning about how crime labs recover what’s called mitochondrial DNA. The substance was extracted from hair strands found at the baker murder scene. DNA profiler Shelley Johnson said her analysis determined the hair has an extremely high probability of belonging to Mark Norwood.
"We can exclude at least 98.9% of the North American population as having that type," said Johnson.
Mark Norwood has said he is innocent, and to prove he didn’t kill Debra Baker - he wanted the Jury to hear details about another murder. The case was one that he was convicted of committing.
Two years before Norwood allegedly broke into Baker's home, a similar crime took place in Williamson County involving the murder of Christine Morton. That case and his past criminal activity came up during this police interrogation- that the jury got to see. Despite his denials in 2011, DNA evidence linked Norwood to the Morton case and he was convicted in 2013.
With DNA evidence being used against him again, Norwood and his family believe they now have one last shot to challenge the scientific process. His sister, Connie Hoff, says she stands by what she told FOX7 on Tuesday.
"I think they needed a scapegoat I think they needed a fall guy. Even with the DNA evidence? I think that was just a little piece of weak evidence, circumstantial. It’s not solid facts."
Norwood's family say they realize bringing up the Morton case could hurt an appeal if he is convicted for the murder of Debra Baker. That risk is why his defense team advised against taking the gamble, and eventually it was advice Norwood accepted.