DNA evidence presented on the fourth day of Dominguez trial

Thirty-seven witnesses have been called by the prosecution

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Jason Ray Dominguez has been charged with murdering Dustin Brown at the Little Falls Cottages on Lindbergh Drive North Oct. 3, 2011. He said Brown took $1,400 from him to buy drugs, then never returned. Dominguez wanted his money back and he said Brown was not returning his calls.

The trial is in its fourth day and testimony from several DNA specialists highlighted the proceedings.

Jason Ray Dominguez
Jason Ray Dominguez

Before they testified, Special Agent Chad Museus of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, finished his testimony which was interrupted the day before due to time. The prosecution, consisting of Assistant Attorney General William Klumpp and Morrison County Assistant Attorney Todd Kosovich, played an audio tape of the interview with law enforcement and Jason Dominguez when Maseus asked him to go to the Hutchinson Police Department Oct. 3, 2011.

Dominguez, who is defending himself, but not saying a word, told the police he visited the victim, Brown, the night before with his girlfriend, then Amber Martin, and her three children, Elizabeth, 15, Sabrina, 12, and Kole, 8. He said they arrived at Brown’s residence at the Little Falls Cottages at about 11 p.m.

On Oct. 4, Dominguez told the officers, including Museus, he thought Brown had been doing drugs; that he had been on methamphetamines before.

After much questioning, but without saying that Brown had been killed, Dominguez asked what was going on? That’s when he was told that Brown was found dead.

“Seriously?” asked Dominguez. “How?”

Dominguez was asked if he knew anyone who would do him harm and he said he just couldn’t believe it.

“We haven’t been in contact,” he said.

After about an hour, officers learned that Martin had told the officers she was speaking with exactly what had happened in the early morning hours of Oct. 3, 2011.

The tape then stopped.

Meanwhile, evidence was collected from Dominguez’ residence, the crime scene and from items found elsewhere and was sent to the BCA lab in Bemidji where each piece was analyzed.

Patrick Warrick, a forensic scientist 3 and technical leader in the latent print section at the BCA lab, said he and his team photographed, video taped and documented the trailer and surrounding area Oct. 4. The Buick belonging to Dominguez was processed in Bemidji several days later.

Warrick said no fingerprint evidence was found in the bedroom where Brown’s body was found. But, two bullet holes in the bedroom wall were located, about two feet up from the floor. To locate the bullets, after ascertaining they did not leave the trailer, the siding and insulation was removed from the area of the trailer where the bullet was thought to be.

“We heard a bullet drop while we were removing insulation. The other one we found in the wall,” he said.

Warrick said there was a comforter in a corner of the bedroom. When it was spread out, there was evidence of blood and damage. Chemicals were used on the quilt which tested positive for lead around the damage. It showed the holes were created by bullets.

When processing the Buick, it was determined the car had been wiped down. It also smelled of bleach and there were stains on the carpeting from the bleach.

“A presence of blood on the center arm rest and areas on the front passenger side and the back seat tested positive for blood,” he said.

Warrick also tested the gun and its accessories for latent prints. He said different chemicals are used with different surfaces to get prints. He processed the bags the gun was in, the gun, the gun box and the cartridges. The gun box contained a full box of ammunition and a partial one.

“Prints were found on the inside surface of the partially empty ammunition box which were compared to Dominguez and Martin’s fingerprints. The print matched the left middle finger of Martin.

Katherine Igowsky, a BCA forensic evidence analyst in the trace evidence department, specializes in shoe prints and tire tracks. She was the third witness Wednesday.

She examined pictures of the three prints from shoes and boots on the door and the shoes and boots themselves. She determined the matches could not be eliminated. She did determine Officer Richard Mattison’s boots left two of the three impressions.

Igowsky also could not eliminate three of the tires on Dominguez’ Buick from the impressions she received. Three of the tires on the car were the same brand and the odd one was eliminated from the evidence.

John Tebow, a retired BCA analyst from St. Paul, was the fourth witness called Wednesday. Tebow, a fire debris expert, processed and tested the steps of Brown trailer, the ones Dominguez allegedly set on fire. In Tebow’s opinion, the fire was started with gasoline. He came to the same conclusion about the area under the deck and on one leg of the deck.

The fifth witness was Michelle Pearlson, a BCA biology forensic scientist from Bemidji. Her job is to perform serology tests, or the scientific study of blood serum and other bodily fluids.

She examined the black tennis shoes that Dominguez and Martin allegedly threw out of the car after leaving Little Falls Oct. 3, 2011. The right shoe tested positive for blood on the outer toe area. The left shoe had two areas which weakly tested positive for blood: the top of the toe area and the inside and outside of the tongue.

Pearlson examined the Smith and Wesson pistol that Martin led the police to, buried off a walking trail near Hutchinson. She also examined the cartridge and took swabs from blood in the Buick.

“The back of the trigger of the gun had blood, along with the grip, the right side of the grip and on the gun itself, above the trigger,” she said. She also collected DNA from both Dominguez and Brown.

Those findings were submitted for further DNA testing.

Brent Matzke was next to testify. He is also a BCA serology analyst at the Bemidji lab. He said first the known DNA from Dominguez and Brown was tested.

Then he tested the blood from Dominguez’ right shoe. The DNA profile matched Brown and did not match Dominguez. It was the victim’s blood.

The left shoe’s DNA profile also matched Brown and did not match Dominguez. That blood also belonged to the victim.

Pearlson had cut areas out from the shoes and Matzke provided the tests. The DNA profiles on the two samples were insignificant in genetic comparison. The cutting from the left shoe showed a mixture of DNA from three or more people. Dominguez could not be excluded, but Brown was. The cutting from the right shoe also could not exclude Dominguez, but did exclude Brown.

The evidence from the blood on the gun’s trigger had DNA from Brown and excluded Dominguez. The blood was the victim’s. The DNA evidence from the right side of the gun’s grip was a mixture from three or more people. Neither Dominguez nor Brown could be excluded. The DNA evidence from the textured area of the grip was a mixture from four or more people and neither Dominguez nor Brown could be eliminated.

One stain in the Buick tested positive for blood. The DNA matched neither Dominguez or Brown, but did match Samantha Flom, a friend of both Dominguez and Martin.

The prosecution has one more witness to call. Klumpp said his closing arguments should not take more than an hour. He feels the jury will be in deliberation by the afternoon, Thursday.