Is DNA Ever Wrong?

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This is the case of Steve DeMocker who was convicted of killing his ex-wife Carol Kennedy in 2014. Ex-wife, but the divorce had not been final that long when she was murdered.

Let’s get the basic info out there, as outlined by “48 Hours” on Saturday night. I think that was a repeat. Dateline also covered it, and many stories were written about it. Then we’ll get to the weird DNA.

Carol Kennedy, 52, was supposedly on the phone with her mother on 7/2/08. She made some sort of declaration like, “Oh, no”, or “Oh My God,” or something startling, indicating she was about to be attacked. The phone went dead. Her mother immediately called the sheriff’s office. When they arrived Carol had been beaten to death. I don’t think they knew it at the time, but the death weapon was a golf club.

I realize in the movies the person who is about to be attacked screams out the murderer’s name, but that was not to be here. Of course defense attorneys at Steve DeMocker’s trials would have claimed she was calling out Steve’s name, hoping he would have been present to fend off the real killer.

I suppose every murder trial has some very strange things happen, and this one was no exception.

DeMocker’s first trial ended in a mistrial because the judge died of a brain cancer or tumor, whichever you prefer to call it, in his chambers.

Then as preparations were being made for the second trial, DeMocker’s attorneys from the first trial, who were still his attorneys, decided not to represent him anymore. Some info circulated that one of the attorneys had in his office a golf club cover that could have been for the golf club that killed Carol Kennedy, but that was never confirmed. Common sense says their withdrawn was based on some possible legal ethics violation, and that certainly would have been one.

None of DeMocker’s DNA was found inside Carol Kennedy’s house.

Steve DeMocker was scratched significantly after Carol was murdered. That was plainly visible in police photos.

The shoe print found outside the Kennedy home was not your ordinary shoeprint, and even though DeMocker’s shoes were of that type, the shoe print was not to the exclusion of other shoes in the area.

DeMocker was a stockbroker, and according to some reports about to be investigated for the loss of millions of dollars belonging to his clients. Exactly what took place was not specified, but when I hear of these type happenings I always think of the word embezzlement.

DeMocker’s ex-girlfriend pointed out how anxious he was after Carol‘s murder, Steve feared he was about to be arrested by the police.

DeMocker had buried some clothes in a bag several hundred feet from his house in case he had to make a fast exit.

Carol Kennedy, before her murder, claimed he had innumerable mistresses or girlfriends, I assume based on what degree their relationships had advanced to.

Carol Kennedy had a $750,000 insurance policy which the insurance company would not pay to DeMocker because he was a suspect in Carol Kennedy’s murder. Many states, though not all, have that type law. All states should have it.

However DeMocker was able to transfer the payment of the money to his two daughters, and then through his lawyers have the money transferred to them to pay for his defense, at least according to more than one source. Does that sound like some sort of manipulation of his two daughters to you?

However his daughters feel about him now, only they can tell you. One is now a lawyer, and the other a financial analyst. At the time of the trials, they both seemed to accept his innocence. At least they sat right behind him in court which is an indication of that. If you don’t support the person, you normally move to the other side of the court room.

One daughter did testify that her father didn’t have a violent temper. If anyone did, it was her mother, who at times threw things in a fit of rage.

If Carol scratched DeMocker when he killed her, the DNA under her fingernails was a slam dunk for conviction, right? Not if it was contaminated, and that surely happened. Call it sloppy work by the coroner’s office. Under Carol’s fingernails there was some unknown DNA, unknown until they discovered a 68 year-old man had been autopsied one hour before Carol on the same table she was autopsied on. His DNA was under Carol’s fingernails. How could that happen? My guess is that they had done a scraping under the old man’s fingernails, had not bothered to clean it at all, and then used that same instrument to scrape under Carol’s fingernails. If any of DeMocker’s DNA was found under Carol‘s fingernails, considering the circumstances, it was useless.

I’ve done a lot of murder stories involving DNA,  at least a couple of them involving mitochondrial DNA, which defense attorneys try to dismiss as inconclusive, but even those partial in the strictest sense, is still sufficient to distinguish one person from everybody else on the earth. I have never before run across  a DNA situation quite like this one.

There was an additional factor the defense attorneys tried to use. A James Knapp was renting out the guest house on Carol’s property outside of Prescott, Arizona. The defense tried to claim he had the quickest access to murder Carol. Unfortunately for the defense Knapp had an airtight alibi for the time she was murdered. Three or four months after Carol’s murder, Knapp died in what the coroner ruled as a suicide. He was no longer living in the guest house. Again defense attorneys tried to use his “suicide” death, if that’s what it was, to say Knapp killed Carol, and his conscience was so bad, he committed suicide. Once more, that did not work.

I wonder now with one of his daughter’s being an attorney, if she will seek to prove her father is innocent of murdering her mother. She has ready access to the court records. Sometimes when court documents are examined by attorneys or others after the trial, they find a gem that went almost unnoticed in the original trial.

Lawyers on both sides will often times ask a question or throw out a comment when their eyes are focused on the jury and not the witness to see how the jury reacts. A favorable reaction will open another road for them to travel, but if the jury doesn’t react, that road is never taken. A re-examination of the court documents sometimes shows that road should have been taken regardless.

DeMocker’s daughter might find such a gem, or she might find some more damning testimony that did not gain prominence in either trial.

If his daughter goes looking for evidence to prove her father is innocent, she might find more evidence that he is guilty.

That’s a two-edge sword for her, wouldn’t you say? She may not care to go down that road.

A judge always sits silent in the court room, unless he has to issue a ruling or hear objections or issue instructions to the jury, or other legal matters. It was evident in the judge’s sentencing of DeMocker just how guilty he thought DeMocker was. The judge sounded like DeMocker was about 150% guilty. That’s probably why the only time that DeMocker will ever see the light of day outside the prison will be when a hearse comes to haul his dead body away.

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