Day 5: neither Gabriel's blood nor defendant's DNA were found on the axe, Civil Guard forensic experts tell court

Dispatch: Lawyers joust over the possible interpretations of the DNA on the axe. They are interpretations, not facts, says the officer who carried out the analyses.
By Matthew Bennett
Sep 13, 2019, 9:13 pm

During the fifth day of the trial, the court saw the sequence of color images of the removal of Gabriel's body from the defendant's car, taken by the Civil Guard at their headquarters in Almería, in a sealed off area, when it was driven there from Vicar, where she was arrested. The court also heard testimony from the officers who carried out that initial inspection with the investigating judge.

Forensic officers who analysed the DNA found on the tools and in the house at Rodalquilar and the officers who collected the samples at the property the day after her arrest, on March 12, 2018, also testified.

Without needing to explain all of the details of the images from the boot of the car, in Quezada's backpack, seized in the Nissan Pixo, the number of packs of pills she was carrying in different boxes of medication was clarified: six, and "in all the packs there were pills missing", one of the officers said. There was also a prescription in the name of Ángel Cruz and a blue mop bucket.

The defendant alleges she was planning to commit suicide on the day she was arrested.

Two officers from the Civil Guard chemical laboratory testified that the soil found in the boot of the car and that covered Gabriel's body was from the property in Rodalquilar, "in all chemical aspects".

In the car, there were also two small blood stains, mixed with the earth, next to the right rear headlight and on the rear of the backseat. The boy's underwear had a third small spot of blood, but not due to a wound in that area of the child's body.

With respect to the tools found at the house in Rodalquilar—the shovel, the axe, the rake and a hammer (a new element in today's session), no remains of Gabriel's blood were found, according to the two officers from the laboratory who performed the analyses.

There was no blood or DNA on the stones, or in four samples from the mop, or on a tile fragment from the room where the crime took place.

In nine samples taken from the axe, both from the iron head and the wooden handle—only a genetic profile of Gabriel—and not of the defendant—was found in two of them, with no remains of blood.

Asked by the prosecutor, Elena María Fernández, if that meant there were two possibilities for how Gabriel's DNA came to be on the axe—because the child himself had held it in his hands at some point or because a third person had touched Gabriel first before touching the axe— the officer replied that "both one and the other option would be possible".

That Gabriel held the axe in his hands—while insulting the defendant that day—is the defence strategy.

Mr. Torres, seeing the prosecutor's slip, quickly asked the officer if a third option might not be that Gabriel's DNA was on the axe because someone had hit him with the tool beforehand.

"Of course" he replied: "of course it is compatible".

Mr. Hernández Thiel, for the defence, however, reconfirmed the prosecutor's line of questioning, favorable to his client's strategy, obtaining a reply from the expert officer that "we do not know" how the child's DNA got on to the axe, and even confirming that he had repeated "for the umpteenth time" that the three options were all plausible interpretations, not scientific certainties.

If there are three plausible options, none of them is proof of anything.

"From a bunch of samples, we did not detect [Gabriel's] blood" at the property, he concluded, except for a small spot on the raised edge of the aluminum door that leads from the room to the patio area next to the pool.

They did confirm there were two small stains of Gabriel's blood in the boot of the car and another on the boy's underpants, and another small spot of blood on the white inner t-shirt found in the skip in Retamar, on the lower back edge of the garment.

In the sequence of photos showing the exhaustive inspection carried out by the Civil Guard at the property, the small size of the makeshift hole where Quezada buried Gabriel was remarkable. One of the officers who had collected the samples described it as "a small sloped area, a dip next to the pool", estimating its size to be just 60 x 40 cm.

Nor was it a very deep hole, and the court saw photos of the many pieces of wood that were stacked on top of it.

As other officers testified yesterday, the axe was found not next to the pool in an orderly manner beside the other tools, as Mr. Cruz's brother had testified, but in another rear patio area of the house, half-hidden behind another wall.

A hammer they found on the other side of the pool had no further relevance for the case.

In the photos of the house, several—not just one—mop buckets could be seen, as well as a variety of tools used for painting, and a bucket of paint: someone had indeed been painting that house at some point before the crime.

The court saw the photo of the small blood stain on the raised edge of the door of the room.

Mr. Hernández Thiel continued with his strategy of objecting due to the magistrate's refusal to alter the order of the questions in his client's favour.

Ana Julia Quezada (Dominican Republic, 1974) stands accused of murder, in relation to the death of 8-year old Gabriel Cruz in March 2018, two counts of psychological abuse in relation to the boy’s parents, Patricia Ramírez and Ángel Cruz, and one count of a crime against moral integrity, in relation to the father.

The trial will continue tomorrow at the Provincial Court in Almería. The 9-person jury—seven women and two men—is presided over by judge Alejandra Dodero. The Prosecutor’s Office is seeking a whole-life sentence.

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