Friday, March 14, 2014

Did Former CSI Kofoed Plant Evidence a Second Time? While Under Oath,No One Asked.

What did not get asked in court was as important as any of the questions David Kofoed did answer.  

No one asked him under oath if he, rather than the killer, was responsible for the presence of the murder victim's blood in the trunk of Chris Edward's car.  

That will have to wait for a new trial.  If there is a new trial.  That will be the decision of District Court Judge Russell Derr.  
David Kofoed

Kofoed, once the leader of the Douglas County CSI unit, returned to the witness stand for the first time since appearing before a Federal grand jury investigating allegations he planted evidence implicating two innocent men in a double homicide case.  A District Court judge in Cass County found Kofoed guilty.  Evidence indicated Kofoed was the only logical source of a blood smear found on the underside of the dash of a car alleged to have played a part in the murder. Two teenagers who had never been in the car were later identified as the real killers.  They are now in prison.  Kofoed also ended up in jail for a time.

The grand jury testimony six years ago was secret. His appearance this week at the Douglas County courthouse was public. He did not testify at his own trial but continues to deny the old and the new allegations when interviewed.

Returning from South Carolina where he now lives, Kofoed volunteered to testify at a hearing to determine if Edwards deserves a new trial. In 2007 Edwards was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Jessica O'Grady, a one-time girlfriend. Her body was never found but the shocking amount of her blood found at the crime scene left little doubt something violent occurred.

Edwards' attorneys, Jerry Soucie and Brad Munnelly, called witnesses and submitted hundreds of pages of documents in an attempt to convince the judge that Kofoed, with unrestricted access to the collected evidence, at some point added smears of O'Grady's blood to the trunk of the car, a pair of hedge clippers, and a shovel.  

If true, the deception would be strikingly similar to manner in which Kofoed tampered with evidence in the Murdock case.  The special prosecutor who put Kofoed in jail theorized at the time the high-profile CSI director was driven to generate accolades and publicity for himself.

Soucie spent much of the court's time reviewing records and depositions of other law enforcement officials, building a foundation for Kofoed's role in the investigation while demonstrating the one-time investigator had access to blood samples taken from the scene and ample opportunity to tamper with evidence.

The most damning moment, according to Soucie, in Kofoed's reply to his very last question. He was asked if, at the time he was CSI director, one of his employees was the target of an investigation into mishandling evidence whether that investigator would be allowed to process evidence in other cases.  Kofoed said he would not allow it.  That is the point Soucie hoped to drive home to the judge. With hindsight, the evidence in the Edwards case should not be trusted, he argues, because the man put in jail for evidence tampering should not be trusted today when he claims the evidence was handled properly in 2006.

The office of the Douglas County Attorney argues it is not necessary to revisit the case because the most damning evidence has not, and cannot be, disputed.  Edwards bedroom, from a red-stained mattress to droplets covering the ceiling, was awash in the blood of Jessica O'Grady.  

In one short burst of questions to Kofoed,  deputy county attorney Katie Benson listed the inventory of items collected and tested for DNA matching the victim.  

"Did you plant blood on the mattress?"
"No," replied Kofoed.
"The headboard?"
"The night stand?"
"The clock radio?"
"The laundry basket?"
"The ceiling?"

She did not ask Kofoed if he planted blood in the trunk of the car.  Neither did Edwards' attorney.  Even if everyone suspected they knew what he would say, no one wanted any surprises at this stage.

More documents will be presented to Judge Derr. There may be more witnesses called by the county attorney's office.  It will likely be weeks before the judge makes the call on whether there is enough substance to give Christopher Edwards another day in court.

(The attorney who made the controversial choice of representing both Edwards and later Kofoed in their criminal cases appeared to answer questions at the hearing yesterday.  Read about his testimony here.)