To foster reasonable doubt, the defense can be expected to dredge up anything it can find that can't easily be accounted for, according to the age-old principle known as "throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks." We can get a pretty good idea of what to expect from my blog post That Elusive Intruder, in which the history of various dubious bits and pieces of "intruder evidence" is chronicled. Everything on that list, along with just about all the other "intruder evidence," was accounted for long ago, but that won't prevent the Ramsey defense team from tossing each and every item into the ring all over again. The basic idea: if even one single item on the list can't be fully accounted for, that could trigger reasonable doubt, and if reasonable doubt can be implanted in the head of even one member of the jury, then our client is home free.
Unfortunately for team Ramsey, this strategy has already been used any number of times, in any number of trials. So any good prosecutor will be fully prepared to deal with it. Reasonable doubt is not the same as any doubt at all. Fibers found at the crime scene that can't be sourced to anyone living in the house might produce some doubt, but at the same time it is unreasonable to assume that the fibers couldn't have a perfectly innocent source. Many guests and also many workmen had recently been present in the house and it's unreasonable to expect the investigators to track down every single garment worn by every single visitor, and it is thus unreasonable to insist that such fibers be treated as meaningful evidence.
Abrasions found on the victim's back might appear to be consistent with a stun gun attack, and since the Ramseys didn't own a stun gun this might produce some doubts in a juror's mind. However, it is unreasonable to assume a stun gun was used simply because certain marks are consistent with such a weapon, as there is no way to tell whether they could have been produced by some other means. So, just as a defense attorney might argue for reasonable doubt regarding his client's innocence, a prosecutor can argue it is unreasonable to insist on the viability of any piece of so-called "evidence" simply because the defense decides to offer it as such.
In the Ramsey case, the most significant piece of "intruder evidence" is undoubtedly the fragments of DNA found mixed with JonBenet's blood, along with the two instances of matching "touch" DNA found on two separate sides of her longjohns. It was this evidence that prompted DA Mary Lacy to officially "exonerate" the Ramseys. Her decision went well beyond the realm of reasonable doubt, of course, and was certainly a major setback as far as any possible future prosecution is concerned. It was also an outrageous overstepping of her authority, as she had no right to exonerate anyone -- nor did she have the expertise necessary to properly evaluate such highly technical evidence.
As I argued in my blog post on the Touch DNA,
it's essential to keep in mind all the many different ways DNA can be transferred and to remind ourselves that a DNA match between a human and an object does not "necessarily prove they were actually in direct contact at all" (see quotation in previous post). What made me suspicious of this so-called "evidence" from the start was how incredibly sparse it was. If an intruder had actually attacked JonBenet with bare hands, then his DNA would be all over her body and her clothing, not to mention the "garotte" he used to strangle her. The complex, sophisticated methods used to produce miniscule traces of blood and "touch" DNA should not have been necessary. The DNA should have been evident from the start, using conventional methods. And if the attacker used gloves, then there would have been no DNA at all, certainly no touch DNA.My observations are consistent with the views of professionals in this field, as evidenced by the long excerpt from the essay "Evaluating Forensic DNA Evidence:Essential Elements of a Competent Defense Review" quoted in my blog post The Defense. In sum, the unsourced DNA isn't really much different from the unsourced fibers cited above, as it is unreasonable to expect the authorities to track down every possible source when the victim had been in both direct and indirect contact with so many different people over the last few days and weeks. When combined with the many reasons noted above for doubting the existence of an intruder, it seems clear the DNA evidence is little more than yet another red herring tossed into the mix as part of a strategy of misdirection. It is indeed reasonable to assume that all of us carry a considerable amount of "touch" DNA on our bodies and our clothing at all times, due to either direct or indirect contact, and that much of it would probably be equally difficult to source.
At this point, as far as I'm concerned, the line between reasonable and unreasonable doubt has become very thin indeed. But there is one more very significant piece of evidence for us to consider.
(to be continued . . . )