Ex-Detective's DNA Matched Bite Mark: Criminalist | NBC Southern California

Ex-Detective's DNA Matched Bite Mark: Criminalist

Ex-LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus is accused in the 1986 murder

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Testimony in the case of a former LAPD detective accused of killing her romantic rival more than 20 years ago focused Friday on key pieces of the prosecution's case -- DNA from the 23-year department veteran and a bite mark found on the victim.

The DNA of ex-detective Stephanie Lazarus matched a bite mark found on the arm of Sherri Rasmussen, whose body was found in her Van Nuys townhouse in February 1986, according to Jennifer Francis, who works at the Los Angeles Police Department's crime  lab.

Lazarus Interview, Part 1: "What's This All About?"

[LA] Lazarus Interview, Part 1: "What's This All About?"
Former officer Stephanie Lazarus is asked whether she knew John Ruetten and whether she ever met his wife. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010)

Prosecutors argue that an obsessed Lazarus shot and killed Rasmussen, the wife of her former boyfriend. Opening statements in the case began this week.

During testimony Friday, Francis referred to a DNA sample collected from Lazarus in 2009 -- an oral swab collected in an interview room at the LAPD headquarters building. The genetic markers found in the oral swab DNA and the bite mark would be expected to be found in one in 402 quadrillion people, Francis told jurors.

Lazarus Interview: "Do I Need to Get a Lawyer?"

[LA] Lazarus Interview: "Do I Need to Get a Lawyer?"
Moments after leaving the interview room, former cop Stephanie Lazarus is escorted back in wearing handcuffs. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010)

That's the equivalent of about "100 million Earths," she added.

Another DNA sample was collected from a straw retrieved from a cup that Lazarus discarded outside a Costco store. A second DNA analyst testified Friday that the sample from the straw also matched the major DNA profile from the bite mark.

Prosecutors have said DNA will provide the key pieces of evidence in the trial.

A defense attorney countered Friday that the bite mark saliva sample was compromised between the time it was collected in 1986 and analyzed about 20 years later.

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