March 14, 2006
Forensic Expert Uses Blood to Re-Create 1996 Slayings
By Jon Frank, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.
Mar. 14--VIRGINIA BEACH -- The master bedroom where Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown were killed 10 years ago was a blood-stained mess when police arrived on the evening of May 14, 1996.
Blood speckled the walls, stained the bed and floor, and covered clothing worn by the victims and the chief suspect in the slayings: Elise's husband, Eddie Makdessi.
On Monday, that bloody scene became a crash course in forensics for jurors who will decide whether Makdessi is guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.
One of the nation's top crime scene experts -- Ross Gardner of Atlanta -- testified Monday that based on the blood evidence, the slayings could not have happened in the manner described by Makdessi in his statements to police.
Gardner presented a PowerPoint analysis of the blood-stain evidence at the crime scene.
Using computer software, Gardner's three-dimensional analysis re-created two of the crime's participants -- Brown and Eddie Makdessi -- showing where they likely were located when Brown was shot three times in the upper body .
Gardner also described how he thinks Elise Makdessi, an air traffic controller at Oceana Naval Air Station, was stabbed with a knife as she lay spread-eagle on the bed, her arms and legs tied to the four-poster bed.
Based on the blood spatters in the room, Gardner testified, the slayings could not have happened in the manner described by Makdessi in his statements to police.
Gardner acknowledged that after nine years of analysis, there are still things about the bedroom he cannot explain. "There is a complexity there," he said. "I am looking, but I can't find what I need to know."
Gardner's three hours of testimony concluded the prosecution's case against Makdessi. The defense will begin its case today.
Gardner wrote several books on crime scene analysis and lectures worldwide on the subject. He was the commonwealth's 47th witness in the trial, which began one week ago.
Prosecutors claim that Makdessi killed Brown and his wife partly out of jealous rage and partly to collect $700,000 in life insurance benefits.
Makdessi claims that he was assaulted and knocked unconscious by Brown after returning with his wife from a restaurant. He claims that when he came to, he saw Brown raping and stabbing his wife. He claims he shot Brown, then tried to save his wife. He claims he shot Brown a second and third time as Brown lunged at him, then Makdessi called 911.
Brown died at the scene. Elise Makdessi was pronounced dead at the hospital.
When police initially failed to charge Makdessi, an insurance company paid him $500,000 for temporary coverage arranged by the couple in the weeks before Elise Makdessi's death.
Kevin Heaney of the New York Life Insurance Co. testified Monday that Makdessi called him frequently before receiving the check, wanting to know, "Where do I stand? Am I going to get paid?"
Makdessi also received $200,000 from the Navy.
After getting the money, Makdessi left the country for six years. He was arrested when he returned to the United States in 2003, and he has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.
Last week, a crime scene analyst with the Virginia Beach Police Department testified that he made a mistake when he first looked at the crime scene almost a decade ago.
"I was wrong," said Harry Holmes. His initial evaluation of the blood-spatter evidence seemed to confirm part of Makdessi's version of how the incident occurred.
Gardner testified Monday that the bedroom was a "confusing, very complex crime scene" that continues to leave many questions unanswered.
For instance, he said, he cannot tell which victim was killed first, nor can he explain why Eddie Makdessi's DNA does not appear on the knife used to kill Elise Makdessi, while Brown's DNA does.
Gardner said he can definitely say Brown was not shot in the manner described by Makdessi.
Gardner said blood-spatter evidence on the back wall and on Makdessi's clothing proves that Brown was shot the first time while kneeling in the bedroom. He said Brown then was shot twice while falling back onto the floor. Additional blood spatter, and a bullet found imbedded in the carpet immediately below Brown's body, proves this, Gardner testified.
The last shot was fired with Makdessi standing directly over Brown, Gardner said.
Also, Gardner said, there is no evidence that Brown ever held the knife that killed Elise Makdessi, but there are multiple stains on Eddie Makdessi's clothing made by contact with the knife.
Gardner said the earlier crime scene analysis was wrong because it did not take into account how multiple gunshots create extra blood-
Reach Jon Frank at (757) 222-5122 or [email protected]
Copyright (c) 2006, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.
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