Clark Expected To Testify In Murder Trial

April 14, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

The man charged with murdering 23-year-old Kathleen Patricia Gouldinis expected to take the witness stand in his defense this week before a county Circuit Court jury that has been hearing testimony in his trial for nearly two weeks.

Vernon Lee Clark, 35, an Elkridge laborer, is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault in the July 3, 1989, killing of Gouldin, a manager at Fat Tuesday's restaurantin Baltimore.

Clark has maintained his innocence in Gouldin's killing since hisarrest in January 1990.

In trial testimony last week, an Alabama scientist challenged the conclusions of FBI forensics experts who found that Clark's DNA matched the DNA in semen taken from Gouldin's body.

Ronald Acton, director of immunogenetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, testified Friday that the FBI's DNA profile analysis of Clark does not provide an accurate estimate of the probability of finding another person with the same DNA.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the genetic material that shapes and identifies a person's cells.

Last week, FBI forensic expert Dwight Adams testifiedthat lab tests matched DNA in a blood sample from Clark with DNA in semen taken from Gouldin's body. Based on the test results, Adams said, the probability of finding another black person with the same DNAprofile is one in 300,000.

However, Acton said, these results weren't reliable because the FBI's gene database included only samples from black populations in Houston, Miami and California.

To obtain accurate results, Acton said, the database used to determine probability in this case should have included black populations from Maryland.

Police say Clark shot Gouldin in the chest with a 20-gauge shotgun through the window of her first-floor Elkridge apartment. The gun used in the killing came from the Carroll Braun rendering plant in Elkridge, where Clark worked as an animal skinner for 10 years, police said.

In other testimony last week, Anthony Castranda, an acquaintance of Clark's, testified that he saw a shotgun in the back of Clark's white station wagon when Clark gave him a ride in his car shortly before July 3, 1989.

Castranda is now serving a four-year sentencefor violation of probation of a theft charge at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup. He also has a 1988 theft conviction.

The trial, before Judge Raymond J. Kane, is expected to conclude Wednesday.

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