Perry orders Frye hearings

By Nikki Namdar
Special to Valencia Voice

Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. set an order Tuesday for a Frye hearing to discover whether or not DNA can be recovered from decomposition fluid.

Frye hearings, named for Frye v. United States (1923), are a chance for the judge to review evidence to ensure it is accepted by the scientific community. If not, the evidence will be excluded from court.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton requested an exclusion. He stated that defense’s expert witness in the area of touch DNA, Richard Eikelenbloom is unable to render his opinion because the area of study has not been fully accepted in the scientific field.

Defense Attorney Jose Baez explained to Perry why it is necessary for the expert witness to state his opinion.

“This is a very complex case, especially forensically,” he said.

Baez claimed FBI DNA examiner Heather Seubert discussed the issue when she testified on Thursday, but the Ashton refuted that the state never brought in DNA evidence from decomposition fluid.

Karin Moore, law professor at Florida A&M University and former criminal defender, said Baez caused the controversy when he called her up to the stand.

“The burden will be on Baez to prove that DNA can be recovered from decomposition fluid, that the science and methodology are accepted in the scientific community and that the methodology was properly employed,” she said.

The pair of shorts Caylee Marie Anthony was wearing the day she died and one of the bags found near her remains were both sent to a laboratory for investigation, but the defense did not request the duct tape or the carpet samples from the trunk of Casey’s car be tested as well.

According to his deposition, Eikelenbloom was unaware what items were tested and what the results were.

Baez called Eikelenbloom a “pioneer” in his profession, insisting that “the type of trace recovery they have utilized” is the most important aspect, and is essential to this case.
He requested that the witness to limit his testimony to matters only involving DNA degradation.

“Perry acts as a gate-keeper of new and novel scientific evidence,” Moore said of the judge. “His job is to ensure that the evidence is relevant and reliable; not junk science.”

Perry granted the request by the state to prohibit the testimony and he instructed Baez to be prepared to provide to the state with a week’s notice for the Frye hearing, which should be set for sometime in the coming weeks based on defense’s choice of scheduling.