Prosecution rests in murder trial of police officer Experts fail to link evidence to killing

October 16, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

Fragments of bullet and bone smaller than a fingernail closed Baltimore County prosecutors' case yesterday against a Baltimore City police sergeant accused of murdering the 22-year-old mother of a son he would not acknowledge.

But experts from state police and FBI crime laboratories and a forensic anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution could not positively link the fragments to the skull of Gina Marie Nueslein or to the weapons of Sgt. James A. Kulbicki.

Sergeant Kulbicki, 37, of the 3400 block of Toone St. in Highlandtown, is accused of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the death of Ms. Nueslein. She was killed four days before a Jan. 13 hearing to establish his paternity.

Ms. Nueslein, of the 3300 block of Ramona Ave., left her home Jan. 9 at 3:30 p.m. for the half-mile walk to her job at a Royal Farm store. A park employee found her body the next morning at the end of Grace's Quarter Road in Gunpowder Falls State Park.

Linda Watson, a state DNA expert, testified Thursday that she matched a stain on the sergeant's denim jacket to Ms. Nueslein's blood -- at odds of 1 in 7 million. Under cross-examination yesterday, she said she could not date the age of the bloodstain or distinguish it from menstrual flow.

Using slides of enlargements of a tiny piece of "fresh" bone recovered from the cab of Sergeant Kulbicki's Ford pickup truck, Douglas William Owsley, curator of the National Museum of Natural History and a scientist specializing in the human skeleton, pointed out a sooty deposit resembling gunpowder, embedded lead particles and a gouge mark -- all suggesting a gunshot wound to the head.

But, Dr. Owsley said, "It is difficult to say that it is a human bone fragment," or even that the person it came from is dead.

Joseph Kopera, a ballistics expert at the state crime lab, said two bullet fragments were consistent with a .38 caliber special Smith & Wesson service revolver, and a snub-nosed "off-duty" version of the same gun seized from Sergeant Kulbicki.

The fragments, one from Ms. Nueslein's body and one from the cab of the sergeant's pickup, had been too "distorted by going through something" to be positively linked to either weapon, Mr. Kopera said.

Agent E. Roger Peele, a metals expert, said the fragments "could have been from the same piece" of lead because there was no difference in their composition. But because 15 to 20 bullets from the same box may have identical composition, "It's a classic I-don't-know situation," Agent Peele told Henry L. Belsky, Sergeant Kulbicki's attorney.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Mr. Belsky promised the jury a "minute-by-minute" alibi to prove his client could not have run a series of errands and had time to kill the victim and dump her body in the park.

Yesterday, private investigator James Ozazewski, a defense witness, gave the time elapsed to run a series of errands -- to a shoe store, a cleaners, a hardware store, a gasoline station -- and to drive to the park from the sergeant's home and the victim's place of work.

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