HRLR
Los Tocayos Carlos
Chapter 10
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All Chapter 10 Footnotes

But Escobedo had seemed to believe that if Infante, doubling as a scene photographer and working with inferior equipment at night, couldn't lift a print at the scene, then it wasn't worth looking further.179

Relying on Infante, a converted patrolman with little training,180 was itself a mistake, Garza felt.181 From what Garza could see, the man didn't do things right.

Garza pointed out that Infante came up empty even when he dusted surfaces that people were touching all day long. "The counter was made of Formica," Garza pointed out. "There should have been . . . prints from people that patronized the business."182 "If none were lifted," Infante's technique must have been "improper."183

A former Scotland Yard expert who reviewed the fingerprints much later agreed. The effort to find latent prints, and the crime scene examination in general, he concluded, "appear to be full of mistakes from start to finish."184

The biggest shame was the handling of the knife. Its metal blade, brass trim, and locking lever were ideal surfaces for fingerprints.185 There was a "great possibility" that the killer left his calling card there.186 But when Infante found the weapon under the cash drawer, he could see it was wet with blood and flesh. He said so in his report,187 and his photos plainly showed it.188 Right there, he should have known that the graphite powder in his field kit wouldn't work.

He should have known either to bring the knife to the local lab or "package it up and send it to the Department of Public Safety [in Austin] or even the FBI laboratory"189 so experts could process it with the right equipment.190 Instead, Infante spread graphite powder all over the weapon on a counter at the Sigmor store,191 spoiling it forever for proper fingerprint and blood analysis.192

No wonder Escobedo never asked a lab to go over the knife for the stabber's prints or blood.193 Infante had ruined it. A present of his own for the lucky killer.

image

Figure 30. TV news video of Joel Infante attempting to obtain fingerprints from the Sigmor Shamrock clerk's counter.

* * * * *

To Garza, everything about the scene investigation suggested haste and a rush to judgment: failing to set up a perimeter to keep onlookers away,194 overlooking clearly visible evidence, neglecting to test many promising surfaces for fingerprints and fouling those that were tested with the wrong materials, contaminating the scene, flying solo instead of bringing in a team of detectives and technicians, ignoring the lack of blood on DeLuna.195

See Tamara Theiss's Notes of Interview with Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases (Feb. 27. 2005) at 2:

As the lead investigator, my first responsibility was to secure the crime scene. I think I responded around 7 p.m. [sic, 8:15 p.m.] to the scene, and it took me at least three hours to process everything [sic, Escobedo was at the crime scene for approximately two hours]. I had to do everything myself. Back then, we didn't have any crime scene technicians or equipment. The responding investigator had to do everything on his or her own. I remember that all we had was a little kit we carried around in the trunks of our cars. We didn't have any police tape to secure the scenes. We just had to yell at people to stay back and not step on our crime scenes. I think I had the help of a fingerprint technician, but no one else.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:39:09–01:39:40 ("The crime scene technician was Joel Infante. Joel was in patrol most of the time and later on he got assigned to the identification division. He might have had some experience in lifting prints, but to process a major, major crime scene, I don't think that this person had the proper training, the proper knowledge of what to look for at a crime scene.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:39:09–01:39:40:

I don't know exactly how long [Infante] had actually been assigned to the identification section, but I knew him when he was in patrol, and I know that in patrol you just go through the form[al]ities [sic] of how to secure a scene and things like that. But to have the proper expertise in a major crime scene, you have to have people that have worked on big major crime scenes and have the knowledge and training on how to recover evidence, how to obtain evidence, how to handle it properly, where to send it, whether you're going to leave it in the local lab or whether you're going to package it up and send it to the Department of Public Safety or even the FBI laboratory.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:34:31–01:35:35 ("Again, it all goes back to the person that's in charge of the crime scene, the person that is collecting the evidence. If he is not properly trained or has had enough experience in a big homicide like this, they're going to miss some [finger]print area, they're going to miss something in the crime scene.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:54:52–00:57:00, 1:00:00–1:00:31, 01:35:40–01:36:02 ("Formica is a pretty smooth surface; sometimes you can lift a whole hand print if somebody puts their hands on the counter. . . . Evidently, the majority of the people, they put their hand on the counter."; "The counter was made of Formica, there would have been prints if—There should have been several prints from people that patronized the business itself. If none were lifted, then it was an improper way to try to lift latents from the counter itself.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:57:00–00:58:30 ("To me, if this [cash drawer] was processed properly, something could have been obtained from somewhere around the cash [drawer], some type of print.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:25:16–01:25:48, 01:35:40–01:36:02:

Q. There was a carbon paper taken from a credit-card receipt from a previous customer. It was found, quote, "half-haphazardly laying on top of the tray." No tests were made. No analysis of who the customer was, no analysis for prints.

A. Again, if it was carbon paper, whoever pulled it off should have had some type of latent print on the carbon itself. . . . The counter was made of Formica, there would have been prints if—There should have been several prints from people that patronized the business itself. If none were lifted, then it was an improper way to try to lift latents from the counter itself.

Email from Allan Bayle, former Scotland Yard Forensic Expert, to James S. Liebman, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School (July 3, 2004) ("The scene appears to have been very poorly examined and the state of the latents should have been photographed first before the lifting technique used. . . . [T]his whole case does appear to be full of mistakes from start to finish.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:34:50:

It's a great possibility to get prints off this knife because this is a smooth surface and you have your brass or copper ends right here and you can very well lift a partial palm-print or a thumbprint or fingerprint off this particular knife. It has been done before and I've seen it done before. You can actually seal this weapon [the knife], superglue it, and you can get a print off of this.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:54:52–00:57:00, 00:57:00–00:58:30:

[I]n this photograph, you see the knife that the person used. Now there was some matter left on this knife from fatty tissue or something that was . . . the knife that was used to cut the lady which was a fixed-blade knife with the . . . the same knife, that I, as I said earlier, it has a button that you press and it becomes a fixed-blade knife. . . . [I]t is very, very possible to obtain either a palm print, a fingerprint from this knife. . . . And you can see that there might be some foreign matter on this particular knife. I think that's why the close-up was taken of it because it does show some foreign matter. But just like you see foreign matter here, you have your other part of the knife that could have had some type of fingerprint.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:21:54–01:23:27:

[T]here was other evidence on there that could have been obtained both by the knife itself, [but] just dusting it, is probably not going to bring a finger print. The hands of a perspiring person are going to leave some kind of palm print or something on it. But sometimes, you have to actually use a process they call "superglue," that will actually bring a latent to light if it is there. I don't care how much grease there is. You can obtain a wet can and if you dry that can, and later on superglue it, you're going to get a latent. . . . So I say that a knife, yes, you could superglue it and get a print somewhere or another. Because there's enough oil in a person's body to transfer a palm print or a fingerprint onto any kind of surface.

See also George Aguirre, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 222−23 ("There was a person standing by the—I guess this is the ice machine, right by the ice machine drinking a beer. . . . [W]hen I was looking at him, you know, through the corner of my eye, I saw him putting a knife in his left pocket open, the blade was—I saw him holding it by the blade and putting it in his left pocket.");

Joel Infante, Corpus Christi Police Identification Technician, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 21, 1983) at 205 ("Q. Now, I notice when I pick it up [the knife] and I hold it like this and I take my finger off it, I can see something of a fingerprint. Is it possible to put your hand on that thing and not leave a print on something like that? A. It's possible the way it's handled that you could, and that you could not leave a print, very, very possible.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:34:50 ("It's a great possibility to get prints off this knife because this is a smooth surface and you have your brass or copper ends right here and you can very well lift a partial palm-print or a thumbprint or fingerprint off this particular knife. It has been done before and I've seen it done before.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:21:54–01:23:27:

[T]here was other evidence on there that could have been obtained both by the knife itself, [but] just dusting it, is probably not going to bring a finger print. The hands of a perspiring person are going to leave some kind of palm print or something on it. But sometimes, you have to actually use a process they call "superglue," that will actually bring a latent to light if it is there. I don't care how much grease there is. You can obtain a wet can and if you dry that can, and later on superglue it, you're going to get a latent. . . . So I say that a knife, yes, you could superglue it and get a print somewhere or another. Because there's enough oil in a person's body to transfer a palm print or a fingerprint onto any kind of surface.

Joel Infante, Corpus Christi Police Identification Technician, Field Investigation Report (Feb. 4, 1983) at 1 ("[K]nife . . . processed for latent prints . . . . [N]o prints were obtained because simply there were none.");

see Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases, Supplementary Report (Feb. 5, 1983) ("It should also be noted that the knife did have some type of substance on it, it appeared to be some type of body tissue substance, it resembled some type of fatty type substance, it was clear in color and appeared to have congeled [sic] in areas.");

Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 305–06 ("This is the knife I retrieved [at the crime scene] on February the 4th, 1983. . . . At the time that I first observed this knife, it was open and it had some type of substance on it. To me it appeared to be some type of fatty substance, tissue on it.");

Joel Infante, Corpus Christi Police Identification Technician, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 21, 1983) at 204–05 (describing condition of knife found at the scene: "The— the blade of the knife was—was very wet, it had some kind of substance on it, blood and some kind of pulp or something that came out from [witness does not finish the sentence].");

see also Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:54:52–00:57:00 ("[I]n this photograph, you see the knife that the person used. Now there was some matter left on this knife from fatty tissue . . . .").

Crime Scene Photograph 25500002, Corpus Christi Police Dep't (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500017, Corpus Christi Police Dep't (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500018, Corpus Christi Police Dep't (Feb. 4, 1983);

Crime Scene Photograph 25500027, Corpus Christi Police Dep't (Feb. 4, 1983).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:39:53–01:40:40:

I don't know exactly how long [Infante] had actually been assigned to the identification section, but I knew him when he was in patrol, and I know that in patrol you just go through the form[al]ities [sic] of how to secure a scene and things like that. But to have the proper expertise in a major crime scene, you have to have people that have worked on big major crime scenes and have the knowledge and training on how to recover evidence, how to obtain evidence, how to handle it properly, where to send it, whether you're going to leave it in the local lab or whether you're going to package it up and send it to the Department of Public Safety or even the FBI laboratory.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:34:50–end of tape:

It's a great possibility to get prints off this knife because this is a smooth surface and you have your brass or copper ends right here and you can very well lift a partial palm-print or a thumbprint or fingerprint off this particular knife. It has been done before and I've seen it done before. . . . You can actually seal this weapon [the knife], superglue it, and you can get a print off of this.

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:54:52–00:57:00, 00:57:00–00:58:30 ("[I]n this photograph, you see the knife that the person used. Now there was some matter left on this knife from fatty tissue or something that was . . . the knife that was used to cut the lady which was a fixed-blade knife with the . . . the same knife, that I, as I said earlier, it has a button that you press and it becomes a fixed-blade knife. . . . [I]t is very, very possible to obtain either a palm print, a fingerprint from this knife."; "And you can see that there might be some foreign matter on this particular knife. I think that's why the close-up was taken of it because it does show some foreign matter. But just like you see foreign matter here, you have your other part of the knife that could have had some type of fingerprint.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:21:54–01:23:27, 01:26:13–01:26:25:

[T]here was other evidence on there that could have been obtained both by the knife itself, [but] just dusting it, is probably not going to bring a finger print. The hands of a perspiring person are going to leave some kind of palm print or something on it. But sometimes, you have to actually use a process they call "superglue," that will actually bring a latent to light if it is there. I don't care how much grease there is. You can obtain a wet can and if you dry that can, and later on superglue it, you're going to get a latent. . . . So I say that a knife, yes, you could superglue it and get a print somewhere or another. Because there's enough oil in a person's body to transfer a palm print or a fingerprint onto any kind of surface. . . . [The] receiver itself [of the telephone behind the clerk's counter] should have been taken off that phone and taken to the laboratory and tested further.

See Mark Schauer, Corpus Christi Police Officer, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 124–27 (discussing laboratory use of ninhydrin to test for fingerprints on surfaces that are wet or were moistened after a fingerprint may have been left there);

Ernest Dave Wilson, Corpus Christi Police Fingerprint Examiner, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 18, 1983) at 343:

Q. [C]an [you] tell the Jury why those bills are discolored in that particular fashion[?]

A. These bills are discolored in this particular fashion because they were treated to ninhydrin solution. This ninhydrin solution is sprayed on these bills to bring out any possible latent fingerprints.

Q. Why do you use ninhydrin instead of the black powder?

A. Because on paper ninhydrin brings out better fingerprints than a black powder does.

Q. Is it easy to bring out fingerprints on paper?

A. Some types of paper it is, sometimes it isn't.

Joel Infante, Corpus Christi Police Identification Technician, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 21, 1983) at 192–93, 203 (discussing black-powder "dusting" procedure he used to lift prints at the scene, and the results: "Q. Did you try to lift any prints off the knife? A. Yes, sir, I did. Q. And were you able to life any prints off the knife? A. None.");

see Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 5, 2004) at 01:00:49–01:01:29 (describing the field procedure for lifting fingerprints with graphite powder: "They lift the print with [a] roll of tape . . . . They actually dust it, they get the figure of a print, the tape is put over it, and then it is lifted and placed on a white four-by-five card . . . .").

See, e.g., Crime Scene Management: Scene Specific Methods 50 (Raul Sutton & Keith Trueman, eds., 2009) ("The next consideration should be given to items that may provide DNA material such as blood, cigarette ends, chewing gum and so on. This is done to avoid DNA material being contaminated with fingerprint powder.").

Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases, Supplementary Report (Feb. 5, 1983) (not including the knife on the list of items sent for laboratory analysis);

Olivia Escobedo, Texas Dep't of Public Safety Laboratory Physical Evidence Submission Form (Feb. 9, 1983) at 1–2 (submitting only the $5 bill, a pair of black pants, a pair of white shoes, a long sleeve shirt, and Q-tip swabs for testing);

Letter from James F. Waller, Jr., Supervisor, Texas Dep't of Public Safety, to Sergeant Olivia Escobedo, Corpus Christi Police Detective in Wanda Lopez and Dahlia Sauceda Cases (Feb. 17, 1983) at 4 (not including the knife in the list of items the lab was asked to analyze).

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:48:48–01:49:11 ("You would rope the whole area outside. Everything, to within ten to twenty feet. If you can stretch a ribbon all the way around the property itself, just secure it. Don't let anybody in to the crime scene at all."; "Just keep everybody beyond that tape. Because everything is important. I wouldn't have messed with anything else until the ID techs would come in and worked themselves from the outer perimeter to the inner perimeter of the crime, where the crime was committed.").

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 00:44:14–00:45:16 ("And there was evidence that was stepped on by the investigator that was at the scene. And to me, if you just stay out of a crime scene and talk to the witnesses outside and secure the scene and just let [the] identification take, whether it be one day, two days, or three days, just to be at that scene, processing the scene, I think that the results of this case would have been totally different.");

Transcribed Videotape Interview with Eddie Garza, Corpus Christi Police Detective, in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 6, 2004) at 01:34:31, 01:37:08 ("That's why it's always good to protect the crime scene for as long as it may take, whether you need to call in other expert identification people to go to the scene and process the scene, more time would have been needed. What they should have done is they should have secured the scene completely for at least 24 to 48 hours until everything had been gone over to identify the offender that they had to the crime scene."; "To me, the investigator that was assigned to this case did not have the ample knowledge of the criminals involved in this deal, had no knowledge of what the people involved in this crime were capable of. She didn't have the proper experience of how to investigate a major crime.").

Chapter 10
Page: 10 of 14