DNA expert questions custody of evidence


Waseem Daker

Murder defendant Waseem Daker put his own DNA expert on the stand Wednesday.

Dr. Greg Hampikian tried to mitigate the prosecution’s forensic scientist, who told jurors on Tuesday that a hair found on the murder victim was definitely matched to Daker, though Hampikian did not do any actual testing of the evidence in the case.

Rather Hampikian, a professor at Boise State University in Idaho, called into question the chain of custody of the evidence from the 1995 killing and the “miraculous” availability of a hair with root tissue for testing more than a decade later, though he offered no proof of any mishandling.

“You have to show me what comes in and what goes out,” he said.

Daker also called to the stand two men who knew the victim, Karmen Smith, including one who dated her briefly, but they did not seem to be able to offer much in the way of who did or didn’t kill Smith and stab her young son, Nick, multiple times in their east Cobb home. Likewise for a former paintball teammate who knew Daker and Loretta Spencer Blatz.

Daker previously spent a decade in prison for stalking Spencer Blatz, who shared a house with Smith.

Before jurors came in after the lunch break, Daker unsuccessfully argued for some of his witnesses to be allowed.

Daker, who is representing himself, wanted to call a Captain Halbert to testify about property logs Daker claimed to have just received, when the state showed he had been given the information earlier.

“There has been repeated behavior of bad faith in discovery,” Judge Mary Staley said before disallowing the testimony as a sanction. “I’ve warned you, Mr. Daker. You have to follow the rules. They apply to all. … I’ve warned you for the last time.”

Daker also tried to call an insurance investigator to testify about a false insurance report Spencer Blatz had made that resulted in a criminal charge against her. Spencer Blatz pleaded guilty and was granted first-offender status, and Judge Staley had previously disallowed any such testimony on the issue.

“My specific inquiring is trying to impeach on general bad-character grounds,” Daker argued, to which prosecutor Jesse Evans said it was “not possible” for them to do that without violating the order, because that single incident was their only dealing with Spencer Blatz.

But Daker said the insurance investigator had interviewed eight to 10 people in the community who had dealt with Spencer Blatz, including salespeople at Hi-Fi Buys and other stores.

“Salespeople at Best Buy are not people she knew,” Judge Staley said in disallowing all of them.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Kim Isaza, September 27, 2012. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – DNA expert questions custody of evidence)

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