Judge OKs use of DNA evidence

Murder trial to begin Jan. 28 for man charged in girl's death

January 15, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A Howard County Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday that DNA evidence can be introduced during the murder trial of Frederick James Moore, the second of two men to be tried in the stabbing and strangulation of 14-year-old Ashley Nicole Mason.

Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr.'s ruling, which was not unexpected, will allow prosecutors to introduce tests that potentially tie Moore, 22, to items linked to the brutal killing - including two hair coverings found a few feet from Ashley's body and the alleged weapon - at the Baltimore man's trial.

Moore's trial on a single count of first-degree murder is scheduled to begin with jury selection Jan. 28. Scott Jory Brill, 19, has been convicted of first-degree murder in the case.

In court papers filed last year, Moore's lawyer, Sheldon Mazelis, asked Kane to exclude the DNA evidence, questioning the integrity of DNA tests in general and the possibility for error in the evaluation of samples.

He noted a conversation he said he had with his client about the possibility that Moore's DNA might be identified on items linked to the homicide and said Moore responded by saying, "I swear it's not my DNA," according to court papers.

During a brief hearing yesterday, Mazelis said he is concerned that samples could be contaminated.

But Assistant State's Attorney Kim Oldham argued that questions of reliability are best addressed at trial through cross-examination and are questions for jurors to weigh during the trial.

Moore was charged with murder six weeks after a delivery truck driver followed the trail from a large pool of blood behind a Pizza Hut restaurant at Route 108 and Bendix Road into the woods and discovered the Long Reach teen-ager's body Nov. 3, 2000.

A medical examiner determined that she had been stabbed 34 times and strangled, according to testimony at Brill's trial.

Although the DNA tests served almost as a footnote during Brill's trial, which turned on a confession the teen-ager made to investigators several weeks after Ashley's body was discovered, they are expected to play a greater role in Moore's trial.

Moore gave investigators no statement, and hearsay rules prohibit prosecutors from using Brill's taped interviews - which portray Moore as the key player in the killing - at the Baltimore man's trial.

But DNA tests identified Moore as the primary source of DNA found on two nylon hair coverings, called "do-rags," that were found in the woods near Ashley's body, according to testimony at Brill's trial

Moore also could not be excluded as a source of the DNA found on tape on a knife covered with Ashley's blood, according to testimony.

The knife, which was found by a motorist the morning Ashley's body was discovered, was later turned over to investigators.

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