View Full Version : Dr. Arpad Voss testimony (Oakridge Laboratories)

06-06-2011, 09:02 AM
JB addressing the Court regarding Dr. Voss's database. Database could contain exculpatory information to show that his testimony and opinions are not in conformity with his database and JB does not have the opportunity to cross examine him on this.

State calls Dr. Arpod Voss.

Jury coming in.

06-06-2011, 09:31 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Voss by JA.

He's a senior research scientist at Oakridge National Laboratory - been there almost 20 years. He then listed his education. His Ph.D. dissertation was developed around Dr. Bass's work at the Body Farm in the area of forensic anthropology - post mortem interval - determining how long someone has been dead. This was in the late 1980's.

The Oakridge facility - in the early eighties it was the only facility in the world where you could study a whole body decompositional event - 1.5 acres in size. Began in 1972. 1100 test subjects - bodies donated to science - left outside under various conditions - some in cars, some buried and some on the surface.

Post-mortem intervals - his initial research was looking at the chemical breakdown of soft tissue - analyzed decompositional fluid to determine how long an individual was dead.

4 stages of decomp - fresh, bloat, active decay and dry. Fresh stage - 2 processes - autolosys (self-digestion process) After sudden death, the cells don't realize the body is dead and they continue to metabolize - byproduct is carbon dioxide which builds up in the cells and is acidic.

JB objected and HHBP overruled.

Cells are breaking down and becoming acidic. Blisters occur and then skin slippage. One of the first visual signs that something is amiss. This gives the body a moisture laden appearance. This allows the second process of decomp - putrifaction - where microscopic organisms now feed on the nutrient rich fluid. The organisms can come from inside or outside the body. Decomposition is the liquification of the body.

Bloat stage - when micro organisms in the intestinal track produce gas.

Objection by JB - overruled.

When someone dies the rectal region and esophagus can become blocked. The gases then have no place to escape, so it builds up in the abdominal region, causing appearance of a bloated abdomen.

Final stage is active decay - the major 40 to 80% of the decomp process - liquification, leading to the dry stage - mummification and skelatinization.

Four processes that are important in the rate of decomp - temp most important, then presence of water, then ph, then the presence of oxygen.

Higher temp excelerates decomp.

His study looked at the liquids. Learned fat and muscle breaks down into volatile fatty acids. There was one publication on this - in that was the analysis of inorganic components. A variety of inorganic components could be used to determine how long a person has been dead. First paper was published in 1992.

First 10 years at Oakridge was looking at a variety of methods to look at volatile fatty acids.

He received his phD in 1991, then went to work at Oakridge.

The Oakridge National Lab is under the Dept of Energy, largest research laboratory. Roughly 4000 employees, guest researchers. Key areas of research which require multi-disciplanary teams looking at climate change, bio-fuels. (JA to witness - I think you just went past the "be brief" part.)

06-06-2011, 09:44 AM
JB up whining about Dr. Arpad Vass's database is not available for him to look @.....

Dr. A. Vass is 1st witness up for the State....

Sr. Research Scicentist for Oakridge Lab, almost 20 yrs, research scientist anthropolgy, chemistry, microbiology, ......

Bach., Masters in Forensics Science, PhD in Anthropolgy from U. of Tennessee.....working as a med tech while working on his Masters...offered position in Knoxville, learned about Dr. Wm. Bass (?), decomp. process in outdoor setting - The Body Farm, 1988 - 89 timeframe when started.....PhD on Decomp....Dr. Vass likes challenges....determine how long someone has been dead.....biochemical perimeters of human decomp....up to that point in late 80's biochemistry was fairly new....

Anthropoligcal research only facilty in world where to study a whole body decomp events.. outdoor facility a little more than 1 1/2 acres - est. in 1972......1100 test subjects donated to research....human bodies left out (object-overrule) various conditions, there is a vehicle, some studies in trunk and inside veh.....in early 80's post mortem interval....time since death....initial research chemical breakdown....4 components, fluids leak out.....analyzed fluid reproducable to

4 stages ; fresh, bloat, active decay, dry - mummified or skeletonized

Fresh stage decomp - 2 process in early stage ....self digestion process....100 trillion cells in human body.....someone dies suddenly - cells don't know death yet...cell metabolism (object - narritive not a biologist)......carbon dioxide usually removed by respriation builds up inside cells ......carbon dioxide (object- witness not a chemist 0verrulled!) cells made up complex structures ....organelles ....... nucleus, other structures inside a lysizone surrounded by membranes and contain enzymes used to digest food ...enzymes are proteins and digest......

lysizone is single membrane ...cell now become acidic from Co2 as membrane ruptures ...releases ....cells eating themselves....cells liquify interior blisters on the skin...start to see skin slippage ......skin sloughs off the body..

nutrient rich fluids give body moist appearance.....2nd process of decomp begins....putrifaction = bio.....feed on the nutrient rich fluids come from inside the body and on the body......liquify body.......breaking down cell structure

bloat stage?
when microorganisms of intestinal tract of humans....metabolize.....by product of metabolism is production of gas.......(slows him down for court reporter - and me!!!)

metabolism as bacteria use new nutrients now available.....rectal region and esophogus become blocked.....gas has no place to escape....builds up in abdominal region...a bloated abdomen.....eventually finds it way out...

Active decay 40 - 80% of decomp process ....major aspect of liquify occurs.....all organs decay.....leads to skeleton stage.....non-nutritive value ....insects won't eat it (bone)

most important enviornmental factors

4 processes
1) temperature - most import
2) presence of water - from enviornment,body,humiditiy
3) Ph - Acidic or Basic - above 7 alkaline below is acid - (burials aneorbic are acidic )
4) presence of oxygen -

high air temp accelorate decomp.....

During study of post mortem interval....what were you looking @? Liquification - anything in that liquid to determine TOD....didn't know what to look for = screen for compounds. fat & muscle breaks down to volitale fatty acids.....only a few buteryic acid, .....

publish findings once? volitale fatty acids .....analysis of inorganic components ...calcium...variety of inorganic components - normally fatty acids .....as soft tissue goes away....inorganic are there ----sodium........., Journal of Forensic Science.... this was one paper.......developed other methods to determine Time since death......homicides never occur the same way twice ....need toolbox to determine....

research facilty.....during volitle fatty acids - PhD in 1991....worked for Oakridge in 1992....Oakridge Nat. Lab...dept of Enegy runs Nat. Lab's in ....largest research .....4-5K employees, key areas of research large complicated projects require multi-disciplinary teams to investigate.....climate change -biofuels, neutrons, material sciences, super computers....homeland security.....

the Lab has a broad range of disciplines....beyond Energy related items.....multi-discipline .....research scientist have to know multiple fields.....looking @ new types food plants that make ethenol or fuel products.....my expertise in micro-biology.......

did there come time when you felt all you could do on post mortem.....yes after the 3rd model....how tissue breaks ....protein to amino acid breakdown......cutting edge......after that point bio-chemically reached limit of knowledge .....early 2000 or 2001 and began another project

he likes challenges .....up til that point thought time since death was most difficult question....he liked that challenge ---he was wrong (object)
why move into another area?

detection of clandestine graves...always problematic....looking @ ways to improve that technology....use of cadavar dogs, ground penetrating radar.....probes to put in the ground.... none of them very effective........

what method ....we look @ odor composition......@ body farm....graves special....put in a piping system ....under the bodies, above the bodies......monitor which chemicals produce during .......@ the body under the body, above the body, and which compounds made it all the way from under..to escape to surface of the ground......

odors? in initial 10 yrs or more ....decomposing human remains in various stages.....over the years 20 yrs .....followed approx 50 individuals from start to finish....fresh when came in .....start to finish......looked @ 100's at various stages.......

odor of human decomp unique odor just to smell.....literature publications describe what

number of researchers done human bodies, pigs,

Dr. Vass has done research .... usually pigs ......deer, pigs, dogs, cats.......

odor of human from nose perspective distinguishable ....he thinks yes (object- overrule) animals have a more mustier, domesticated animals have a sweeter scent...

collected data 2002 - 2007 publish initial paper - Journal of Forensic Science - peer review.....continued research after 2004 paper....establish graves.....begin ....enviornmental perimeters - temp,rainfall,barimetic pressure - if high pressure moves in can't detect chemicals @ the surface....hi pressue pushes down into ground.....low pressure - chemicals come out of ground......some water soluable....float above water when rains sometimes.. .very complicated .......in 2nd paper had been looking @ bodies for 4 years by that time skeletonized (object- narrative = Approach!)

06-06-2011, 09:45 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpod Voss by JA. (continued)

There came a time, after the third model which was based on how tissue breaks down in very early decomp, when they felt they had gone as far as they could. Bio-chemically he felt he had reached the limit of his knowledge. This would have been early 2000 or 2001. Up to then he felt time since death was the most difficult challenge.

Next area - locating clandestine graves - complicated process. Up to that point the primary method of finding was geo-physical in nature - none very effective. He was looking for a more universal way. Mot successful way at that time was cadaver dogs, they then looked at odors by burying a number of individuals with a piping system so that they could monitor the chemicals being produced around the body, in the soil and at the surface which would be the odor the dogs could smell. This lead to the development of instrumentation.

Odor of decomp - over the 20 years there, they have followed 50 individuals from fresh dead to skelatinization. They also looked at 100's of bodies at individual time points. He has found the odor to be unique. There is literature that describe the chemical components liberated in decomp. He has also worked with the odor of animal decomp, including pigs. They also use road kill - deer, dogs, cats.

He has found the odor of human decomp to be distinguishable from animal decomp. Animals have a more musky scent. Domesticated animals have a sweeter scent.

Initial paper on the odor of decomp was published in 2004. This paper related to the establishment of the graves, an assimilation of the chemicals and an evaluation of the environmental parameters - temp, rain fall, pressure. A high pressure will push chemicals down into the ground.

Objection by JB - overruled.

Rainfall - some chemicals in decomp are water solluable and some aren't.

The second paper - had been looking at bodies that had been in the ground for 4 years and were skelatonized.

Objection by JB - SIDEBAR (#1)

(News Commentator saying this is breaking history - first time this testimony has been admitted in Court - air sample testimony)

06-06-2011, 10:02 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpod Voss by JA - continued.

Research continued after 2004 paper. In addition to studying buried bodies, they looked at bodies on the surface, skelatonized bodies and then using a different type of technology.

10 surface individuals - some lying on surface, some loosely covered with tarps, some in body bags. Samples were obtained from the buried bodies using a carbon filter attached to the tubing. The same procedure was used for the surface individuals, but they put the tube in the body bag or put it close. They used an air pump. The tube is then removed, sealed, taken to the lab and then uses thermal desorption - heating tube causing gas to flow and examined in a gas chromatograph. Also, a portion of the gas is chriogenically frozen into pellets - a concentration type technique. They can detect minute amounts. This was used in both buried and above ground remains. They studied the above ground remains for two to three years. Samples were taken initially weekly, then bi-weekly, then monthly as the decomp process slowed down.

2004 paper was updated in 2008.

JA submitted Dr. Voss in the area of forensic anthropology and human decomposition.

JB objected and HHBP accepted him as an expert.

06-06-2011, 10:04 AM
JA w/ Dr. Vass

research continued after 2004 pubish.....also look @ decompose on the surface....skelneton bones..... different type of tech used finally....instead of carbon traps.....speamy fibers (solid phase macro-extraction)

work w/above ground bodies .....antrhopology research facility .....body farm.....10 surface decomp.....some lying on surface....some loosely covered.....buried ......piping systems little ports on end of each pipe......collected air into TST triple sorbent trap.....3 types of activated carbon....little piece of metal activated......air passes thru TST remove odor components capture on activated carbon.....same procedure used on surface individiuals.....placed ..trap on surface, dangled close to body .... use an air pump draws air from enviroment to lab......tube removed ends sealed with nuts....brin back to lab....thermal absorbtion......heat up metal tube - gas goes thru.....as tube heats activated carbon releases into gas chromatogram......cryoloop........tiny little metal loop @ -321F......condenses and freezes odor molecule....concentration techniquie....as heat up....compounds become volital again........cryofocus is to concentrate sample.....triple traps used in buried remains and above ground remains......studied above ground remains 2004-06, inital stages of decomp frequency of samples weekly, then bi-weekly, skeletonized went to monthly.....surface individuals more frequently.......

update 2004 info with new info in 2008.....Expert in Forensic Anthropoligy...(object-

materials in criminal case YM from OCSO.....discussion with him.......sent items of evidence to examine.....metal evidence can.....States exhibit IO - don't recognize outside box.....(giggles no looks like a box)......open box and loook @ contents

06-06-2011, 10:06 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Voss by JA - continued

First contacted in this case in 2008 by YM. He then began to receive items to exam.

First item was a metal evidence can. He dentified the box containing the can. JA cuts tape on box.

(Casey sitting there with a blank far away look on her face)

JA showed him the can in the box. He recognized as the can he was sent.

JB objected to can being entered into evidence as not having the proper chain of custody. HHBP looks at box and can.

Sidebar (#2)

06-06-2011, 10:08 AM
Dr. V recognizes can/label/initials (object - HHBP looks @ item)

HHBP - court reporter come over to sidebar....

IS reporting they believe can has carpet sample from kc trunk - critical moment......@ some point .....SA may want pass this around jury........DT doesn't want this.....IS says gross - must be all jurors or none of them........

06-06-2011, 10:16 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JA continued

Can received in evidence as #114.

HHBP says break in 4 minutes.

He also received a plastic bag with an air sample from the trunk and fibers from Dr. Sigmond. He did not use the plastic bag, Dr. Marcus Wise did. Wasn't sure how this sample was collected, not by normal procedure. Doesn't recall results. Wasn't used in his opinion in this case.

He asked OSCO to take air samples from various parts of the car and garage. He sent them equipment to do this - an air pump used to collect air samples through TSTs (triple sorbant traps). This is what he used in his prior studies. Pump has two aquarium like pumps.

He received the tubes back from the OSCO. He identified the packaging the traps were sent to him in. JB examining the packaging. Entered into evidence with no objection as Exhibit 115-122.

15 minute recess to 10:40

06-06-2011, 10:17 AM
received in evidence - DT has renewed previous objections

JA w/Dr. Vass......
in 4 min we will recess

receive an actual plastic bag w/air sample taken from trunk.....and spme fibers....Dr. Marcus Wise analysed that...(object- overrule) not sure how that particular sample collected not normal procedure........

air samples .... sent equipment air pump and triple sorbent traps (TST) .... same as used in studies described......portable pump....box size of shoe box w/2 aquarium air pumps in in it.....received back from OCSO tubes and triple sorbent traps......

show items....recognize packages initials on each of the packages.... items F - M

JB looks @ ea package.....no objections

time for morning recess 15 min.....til 20 minutes to the hour

06-06-2011, 10:25 AM
Bill Scheaffer says that Dr. Vass can now say that he has been recognized as an expert witness on the odor of decomposition in Orange County, FL. The next historically significant event will be Dr. Vass rendering his opinion.

06-06-2011, 10:49 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JA - continued

Back to analysis of the items he was sent - he was assisted by others at Oakridge, Dr. Marcus Wise and Dr. Martin.

Dr. Wise - lab where instrumentation for analysis was his. He is in charge of the instruments. He is an analytical chemist. A gas chromatograph mass spectrometer was used to analyze these items.

First analysis of carpet sample was an injection of 8/10's mil of headspace of can.

JB objection - overruled.

The can lid was cracked, syringe inserted, 8/10's of mil removed with syringe and put in GCNS by Dr. Wise. No chryo trapping was used here. (Head space = volume of air in can)

JB objected -

Initial evaluation of unconcentrated air sample -

JB objected and requested a SIDEBAR (#3 I think)

06-06-2011, 10:49 AM
JA w/AV.....

Dr. Wise - assisted him....lab w/instruments to analyze samples....his lab.....(object- sustained) hearsay.....utilize it can't testify....

what instrument used analyze - Gas chromatograph mass spectrometer...GCMS,
carpet sample arrived first analysis inject 8/10 mil. headspace (object- witness discuss test by other experts - overrule)

can lid crack - syringe inserted 8/10 mil extracted & insterted into GCMS....

Dr. Wise shared results - we looked @ GCMS - asking for a site (?)

headspace? volume of air contained in the can - items in can......piece of carpet from spare tire area in trunk....

results of initial? (Object- knowledge and expertise - sidebar!)

06-06-2011, 11:13 AM
JB moves to strike previous testimony. HHBP - NO

Initial exam - large peak (chloroform). Chloroform is a compound he has dealt with in his research. It is an identified decompositional event product. The level of chloroform was shockingly and unusual. There were also a variety of very small peaks. They then tried to concentrate the air sample.

He was with Dr Wise in the room as the next round of analysis was done.

They removed the piece of carpet from the can.

JB objected - overruled.

They removed the carpet from the can and placed it in a plastic bag (Tevlar plastic bag designed as a product to contain air samples for testing). They put the sample in the bag and incubated it for two days at body temperature. The carpet came from the trunk of a car in Florida. They estimated temp in trunk was high nineties. They were trying to get the substance in the carpet to be released into the air specifically.

They extracted 10 ml through the chryo trap concentration procedure and then examined it in the GCMS.

JB objection - overruled.

Results of concentrated analysis - 55 individual chemical components - one was chloroform. Chromatogram showed large, tall peaks indicating a greater concentration. The largest or base peak was chloroform. The amount surprised him - they were SHOCKED. They had never seen chloroform of that level in environmental samples in 20 years.

Chloroform is a by-product of decomp - but in very small amounts - parts per trillion. They tried to quantify it in the sample. They injected a standard of chloroform in a known standard to verify their findings. They were then able to make a rough approximation of amount of chloroform - rough approximation - parts per million vs. parts per trillion that he had seen before.

They could not further quantify it because they needed a more concentrated standard. Further quantification really wouldn't have been helpful to them.

Chloroform has a high rate of evaporation - similar to gas.

Objection by JB - overruled.

Chloroform appeared in the trunk, over time it has evaporated - car was in tow yard, anthony garage, forensics lab. Then sample was taken. They could not approximate the quantity at an earlier time.

Also tested a piece of carpet from another vehicle to determine if chloroform was naturally present. He was shown chromatograms from the control carpet and ICA's car.

JB objection - document admitted into evidence at #123 - then published to jury over defense objection.

06-06-2011, 11:16 AM
JA w/Dr Vass

2 high peaks.....highest was chloroform....chloroform is a decomp event compound in human decomp......reason we progressed was the result of chloroform shockingly high.... (object-overrule).....small peaks noted....tried to concentrate air sample.....used cryotrapping to concentrate....present w/Dr. Wise while analysis being done....removed piece of carpet from metal can....not sure if air in can was representative (object-ovrrule) what coming off the carpet....placed carpet in plastic tevlar bag- polyvinyl bag....placed carpet in bag and incubated it @ body temp....tevlar bag won't change sample.....incubate it because carpet sample came from trunk of car in FL anticipated quite warm - high 90's close to 100 degrees in trunk in FL, speeds up evolution of these compounds...estimated 2 days in analysis....

take air sample of bag - from that bag extrated 10 ml, thru cryo....to trap.....

identify sample not concentrated - present for all the post analysis......JB- almost everyone...(object-overrule)

51 indiv. chemical components out of 10 mil extracted from tevlar bag - chloroform present.....GCMS - chromatogram.....large peaks and tall peaks ...much more concentrated amount of material vs. small peak.....

largest peak called base peak ....base peakwas chloroform.....surprised? Shocked! never seen chloroform in those levels in 20 years......in human decomp have seen chloroform in parts per trillion ...very very small amounts.

attempt to quantify amount of chloroform - shot a standard - an analite.....chloroform ....to ensure it was chloroform....concentration of standard is known......rough approx. of (object- speculation - ovrrule)

chloroform was in the parts per Million range vs. Trillion range..

attempt to quantify.....need to purchase much more concentrated standards.....not more helpful to further test @ minimum........chloroform high rate of evap. much like gas.....(object-ovrrule) appears in top trunk first, @ tow yard, lower range in A' garage....lower in OCSO garage.......minimum range....

obtain a standard of the carpet from similar vehicle......

GCMS from control carpet and A's carpet.....enter demonstrative chart.....object-not testified to how obtained...who conducted test and reliabiitly...HHBP who conducted test ...both Dr. Wise and Dr. Vass conducted = HHBP data you reasonably rely upon for data in this case? Yes......Admitted into evidence

output of actual GCMS - which peak represents chloroform = tallest peak - @ 16 min.....(appears to go off the chart?) numbers @ left = abundance - rough approx. of how much material is present......top number 16 million in terms rough estimate how tall that peak......above 16millionish range.....sample from carpet from vehicle in this case.....also show other peaks....region @ lower right side compounds associated with gasoline....dozens of components ......benzy

06-06-2011, 11:21 AM
not surpised gas in trunk of car....knew there was a gas can in the car @ one time....2nd chart - chromatogram from a vehicle = junkyard in Knoxville, TN - car similar make year model.....chloroform peak ....retention time how long it takes to come off 16 min.....shows chloroform .....car from 2 veh.....put in tevlar bag...pulled out 10 mils, same procedure as done in other...peak height no more than 5000 @ most - compared to 16 million in the trunk.....peak height just 1 thing to look @ ....look @ the area under the peak....use computer software to determine ....16 million tall....area 380 million under......on the other sample from 2 different cars was 10 thousand..... do see chloroform from soil.....very little low amounts.....trace amounts.....kinda at detection limits of instrument see a little hump but not very big.

06-06-2011, 11:27 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JA continued.

He indicated on Exhibit 123 the chloroform peak. The numbers showed rough approximations of amount of material present. Top # was 16 million counts. This from ICA's car. He then showed another group of peaks which he identified as components of gasoline. There are overlapping compounds of gas and the odor of decomp. Gas cans were in car. Looking at second chart - chromatogram of a standard vehicle, from a junkyard in Knoxville - a car of similar year, make and model. He indicated where the chloroform was on this one.

(Dr. Vass is so cute and bubbly - hard to believe he works with decomp all day).

The chloroform in the standard car was no more than 5,000 at most, as compared to 16 million in the trunk.

In addition to the peak height, you have to look at the area under the peak. Software is used to obtain that area. For ICA's car, the area under was about 400 million. The area under the control sample from two different cars was 10,000. Chloroform is in environmental samples, but it is typically.... (objection by JB - overruled). Chloroform in environmental samples are typically trace amounts.

Carpet was also tested for presence of inorganic compounds - laser inducted breakdown spectography (LIBS) - a nondestructive technique so that the defense could veryify the results.

Objection by JB - overruled.

LIBS a laser based technique - a YAG laser creates green light. (Asked to slow down - he says he gets excited when he knows something - so cute).

Laser is directed onto the carpet. Elements are either in a ground or excited state. Laser sets up an excited state of the electrons. When the laser is turned off, the electrons fall down to a ground state. They then emit the energy they acquired.

Objection by JB - overruled.

The energy produced during excitation of electrons is released as a photon of light and picked up on a spectrometer. Every element produces a light signature. LIBS can be used to identify the elements present in a particular sample.

This technique was used on carpet sample. He was not present when this was done, but he utilized the results in his opinion.

Regarding results of the LIBS exam of the carpet - they were looking at elevated inorganic components consistent with decomp.

He was shown a graph of the results. JB objects to Exhibit - wants to voir dire witness as to methodology.

06-06-2011, 11:29 AM
Voir Dire exam by JB of Dr. Vass.

He is not a physicist. Dr. Martin did the LIBS. The procedure is well established.

Jury sent out

06-06-2011, 11:29 AM
Dr. Vass - LIBS - lasar induced breakdown spectroscopy....non-destructive techniques...don't destroy carpet.....libs works uses .....witness not a physist object ovrrule

LIBS - laser based technique -laser beam YAG creates green light.....(going to fast - get excited when he knows something Dr. V apologises)

cyrstal matrix- YAG yitrium aluminum garnet

laser directed onto carpet - elements composed of atoms, neutron,electrons, ground state or excited state....laser creates excited state...laser shut off - electrons fall back back down to ground state and emit energy (object-out of area expert -overrule)

laser is turned off fall to ground state...energy produced during excitation released as photon of light picked up by fiber optic - spectrotometer to detect ...every element has characteristic light signature...

technique used on carpet ....not present when occurred .....used this data for eventual report....significance results of LIB.....organic and inorganic components....inorganic liberate when decomp occurs...elevated inorganic decomp event....calcium,soduium etc...non-destructive test to see if elements were in this sample as well as control sample.....
(difficult to hear JA away from mike)

object - outside area expertise - want to voir dire witness pertain to this item......may proceed.....HHBP - as to particular item..

JB - not a physisict....Dr. Modave Martin conducted this exam in charge of LIBS laser -- you are not allowed to touch it? (object sustained
have you ever utilized this instrument -
I have used lasers and laser qualified....I know procedure well established

JB -- you were not present - correct

everyone is standing -- must have pop tarted the jurors!

06-06-2011, 11:33 AM
Jury out.

HHBP - 97-04 of Florida evidence code - facts of data need not be admissible into evidence. Schwartz vs. state 1997 DCA decision.

HHBP thought JB wanted to attack some methodology. That is not where you were going with your questions. Expert witnesses are able to rely on report of others in formulating their opinions - even if the evidence may not be admissible.

HHBP to JB - you may continue your proffer so that we can see the point you were trying to make.

06-06-2011, 11:40 AM
Continued voir dire of Dr. Vass by JB.

Results of LIBS showed inorganic elements consistent with decomp were elevated compared to the sample - calcium, magnesium, sodium, carbon, iron. He doesn't personally conduct LIBS exams. Elements are found in everything known to man. He is not a physicist. He knows which inorganic elements are liberated and elevated in decomp and thinks he can make a conclusion that since all these elements are elevated - it's just another corroboration of what his nose tells me is correct.


They were comparing the car sample to the control sample.

JA objected - overruled.

JB - the only comparison was between the junk yard sample and this car in terms of LIBS.

No further question.

JB objects - testimony outside of scope of expertise and comparative analysis. Objection overruled. State and Defense asked to read page 745 of the 2010 ed of Eirhardt - first 2 full paragraphs particularly dealing with foundation requirement that must be laid before experts can regurgitate other things so things can move on.

Jury coming back.

06-06-2011, 11:40 AM
HHBP reading law re: expert usually use data

permit experts to reach opinion to explain in same manner as they would in their place of work.....citing law
use their opinions in court as they would in their settings (ie: hospital records, notes, with colleagues ,etc)

Mr. Baaaeezz - under the impression you were exactly going for.....abundantly clear experts are able to rely on other's reports ....even if evidence ....reasonably relied upon by expert to support their opinions....you may go into proper subject for cross exam not necessarily deal with what you indicated this is what you want to do.....continue your proffer to see where you were going with this

you may proceed..

JB - results of LIBS

Dr. V - showed inorganic elements associated with human decomp significant elevated over control sample....calcium, sodium, carbon, iron, magnesium, extent of ability of LIBS

don't personally regularly conduct LIBS exam....elements found ....not a physiscist.....know which inorganic compounds elevated in human decomp events.....logical conclusion all these are elevated - should be elevated confirm what my nose tells me is correct.

testify able gain some knowledge from these chemicals as relate to studies of inorganic study ....comparative analysis on types of studies conducted.....variable conditions ...buried bodies, inorganic work done on surface decomp....compared to actual studied? Not true you can compare anything you want!

chemical compound of the libs to a buried body to a surface body....you don't understand what is happen ....we compared what found in trunk in car to control samples from junk yard.....can't compare soil sample with paint chip.....not fair.....

compare junk car in TN vs. this car ...only comparison you can make and (object- overrule) HHBP - he is proffering @ this time

only comparison done was junk yard sample and the car in this car.....in terms of LIBS correct.....

JB objects to this witness outside the scope his area of expertise and outside scope of comparitive analysis (object overrule) ask State and defense over recess read pg 745 2010 edition of airheart first 2 full paragraphs....foundation require before experts can regugatite other things....move more expeticiously return the jury....

06-06-2011, 11:47 AM
Jury back.

Continued direct of Dr Vass by JA.

The chart he was shown (marked as next Exhibit) is the graph showing the inorganic compounds found on the LIBS from the junkyard car sample. Calcium was essentially not even present. The tall peaks were from the ICA car - calcium one of the main inorganic compounds in decomp.

He also tested the carpet using very minor chemical extracts. He did them. They cut a few of the fibers and placed it in methynol overnight and then injected it into the GCMS. This was to detect compounds that weren't going into gas form. The headspace test only shows elements coming off of carpet, not stuck in it. They found the presence of beuteric acid - a volotile fatty acid found in decomp. It is the first compound liberated during decomp of the volotile fatty acids. This was actually in the carpet itself.

His first reaction to opening the can - he jumped back a foot or two. It was very, very strong and he immediately recognized it as human decomposition that he has smelled for 20 years.

06-06-2011, 11:51 AM
Direct examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JA continued.

He agreed he also examined scrapings of the wheel well of the car. He identified the package as being the sample.

ICA sitting expressionless.

Scrapings admitted into evidence over defense objection as Exhibit 125.

He did a chemical extract of the scraping - of particular interest - acidic acid found which is a byproduct of human decomp and also of manufacturing of chloroform.

He also received paper towels from Dr. Neil Haskell. He identified the package.

Sidebar #4 regarding the papertowels being admitted.

06-06-2011, 11:51 AM
sorry folks missed a couple minutes...

placed carpet sample into methonal....inject into GCMS system....peaks of compounds that are not going into gaseous form......headspace sample is just gas coming off thru evaporation.....we wanted to look deeper to see what was stuck in fibers.....presence of butyric acids.....volitle fatty acids for determine post-mortem human decomp....first one liberated during human decomp...it was in the carpet itself.....

JA- w/ Dr. Vass.....

when first opened the can ....essentially jumped back a foot or two - odor extremely strong....recognize odor in can as human decomp.....also given another item scrapings from wheel well in car....item for identify initials....little glass vial w/scrapings if I remember right...open package... pull out plastic dish not glass

enter in evidence over objection

also did chemical extract....compounds ...acedic acid ....by product of human decomp and manufacturing (?) obtain from Dr. Neil Haskell...

doesn't recognize box...gigles it is a box.....JA opens box

Dr. V examines interior of box...confirm items sent by Dr. Haskell......

JA wants to move to .....object Approach!

06-06-2011, 11:58 AM
Continued direct exam of Dr. Vass by JA.

He received the paper towels in a white bag. It was sealed.

JA attempted to get paper towels admitted into evidence. JB wanted to inspect the box and then renewed objections.

Paper towels conditionally received into evidence as Exhibit 126.

Jury recessed for lunch until 1:30

06-06-2011, 11:59 AM

Dr. V w/ JA - white trash bag associated with it....don't remember exactly that but it has been awhile...jB asks to inspect the box....BJ on floor @ Ashton's feet (priceless moment!)

JB w/ HHBP - it will be initially received...

2 minutes before noon - recess for lunch.....

in recess til 1:30 EST

06-06-2011, 01:50 PM
Continued direct examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JA.

Left off at Exhibit 126 - paper towels sent to him. Chemical extraction in methynol of the stained and unstained sections and ran it through the GCMS. The instrumental analysis revealed a number of fatty acids present on the towels. These fatty acids make up adoposere (sp) or grave wax - the byproduct of the breakdown of fat and is associated with decomp.

He also analyzed the carbon filter traps to confirm that the carpet sample was the point source of the odor. They also did an air sample of the garbage that had been reported to have been in the trunk. They confirmed that the carpet WAS the point source of the odor. It was a combination of chemical compounds. They also looked at the other parts of the car, the garage, etc. The same group of compounds in the carpet was not found in the trash or the garage air.

Rose has one set of chemicals, trash has another set. The total combination of the source is what makes it unique. In the car trunk sample there were 51 different compounds. 41 were related to human decomp. Of those 41, there was overlap with gasoline. They did not know if the gas odors came from gas or decomp, so they eliminated those, leaving 24 compounds. They then began looking at control samples and eliminating compounds found in the control car, squirrel, pizza, garage. This left approximately 16 compounds. 7 of these are considered significant - meaning in the 2008 paper there are 30 compounds considered relevant to decomp. Of the 500 found, they paired it down to 30 - looking at the longevity of the compound, normally found in environment, how unusual.

In the trunk of the car, they found essentially 13 of the 30 - eliminating some due to the gas, left 7.

The gas compounds were eliminated because they did not know whether the source was from gas in the trunk or decomp.

Objection by JB - overruled.

30 compounds - as in 2008 paper - come from different stages of decomp - what they consider the most relevant compounds either in early or late. Decomposition is cyclic due to different degradation rates of elements. It is highly unlikely that at any one point in decomp you would find all 30 compounds.

7 compounds left - these were found to be in the list of 30 compounds that they found to be most relevant to human decomposition.

He does not think there is a specific chemical odor signature for human decomp.

He considers the odor in the car consistent with human decomp.

Regarding scraping from tire well, the acetic acid is a product of decomp - just not one of the 30. It is also found in many things - vinegar.

Regarding spare tire cover - all the inorganic compounds of decomp were indeed elevated, but these elements can be found in other things.

Regarding carpet extraction - beuteric acid is not normally seen in environmental samples, but very consisent in decomp. It is usually metabolized by micro organisms and therefore not normally seen in the environmental samples.

Taking all of the instrumental examinations and adding to that his olfactory observation of the carpet smell, it is his opinion that there was a decomposing body in the trunk of the car at some point. He can find NO OTHER PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION.

End of direct exam.

06-06-2011, 01:51 PM
JA w/Dr. Vass - afternoon session

chemical extraction of methanol ...reason insect pupae ....

instrument revealed number of fatty acids; palmetic, oleic, steric....etc. composition make of up adipocere or grave wax....breakdown of fat....associated with decomp...receiving 8 triple sorbent traps (tst) from OCSO - want to confirm carpet sample was point source of the odor....also contained tst on garbage from the trunk...examine tst confirm carpet point source of odor - combination of chemical components present....looked @ trash, interior of car, garage air ....hi abudance in carpet sample....none in trash or garage air in those concentrations.

when encounter odor - flowers/trash etc... concentration of chemicals that make each odor unique....going to be unique cross reactivity - rose may have 12 chemicals and trash has another 20 chemicals...may have same chemicals in rose and trash but interraction between the chemicals ....10 comounds in rose 2 are found in the trash .... each chemical gives odor signature....51 compounds 41 human decom of those 41 overlap w/gasoline....ie; benzine..... eliminate all gasoline components to eliminate confusion....control samples eliminated.....eliminate decompose pizza/squirrel remnants/garage air left approx. 16 compounds 7 are significant....in 2008 paper published list 30 compounds relavant and significant to human decomp.......500 compounds w/decomp narowed down to 30....narrowed how unusual, chemical class, environ. factors..... eliminate 13 overlap with gas, left 7, in back car one expects to se gas in car (object-overrule0

decesion tree of 08 paper.....most relevant compounds differentiate anareobic compounds, early decomp or late decomp compounds - decomp is cyclic ....bacteria degrades @ different rates...early decomp and late and anaerobic and aerobic.

7 compounds left out of 30 relevant out of the 500 compounds of decomp

based upon odor - opinion? consistent w/decomp....acedic acid product of decomp....not unusual it's in vinegar....spare tire cover consistent w/decomp...inorganic compounds elevated

carpet of spare tire cover extraction....butyeric acid....consistent w/decomp..don't see a lot of enviornmental control samples ....very early decomp event....usually metabolized by ......don't see it often in

adipocere - breakdown of adipose tissue -fat - every one of fatty acids identified on paper towels....not just human....sodium is higher is reported in literature is more human like vs. pigs.......

adding to ofactory observation....opinion whether decomoposing human body in the trunk of that car...do have an opinion- No Other Plausible explanation to explain what we found!


06-06-2011, 01:58 PM
JB w/Dr. V
not a chemist....can't comment on something you don't know

Bach. biology in administrating justice, masters anthropology, PhD not listed, Dr. V updated w/new curriculum vitae...

2 co-authors - Dr. Martin - physist, Mark Wise - analylical chemist... Dr. V put down research scientist.......

consult w/Dr. Wise.....area expertise chemistry....last time took course in 1980's during clinical ....have you ever held yourself out as chemist? I don't think I have ever have.....FB account lists you...object -

Wikipedia explaination? Never submitted FB account or wikipedia...never auth. anyone from Body Farm list as bio-chemist? Object

Make money on this?
Done over course of career - buried remains - one of them

comprised built data base....use to come to conclusions....peer review publications is what used.....

research develop comprise this data base.....478 of them mention this data base....buried 4 bodies in 2004....set up contraptions discussed....measure what comes out ground from body.

@ the body interface....moving up the soil column.....17 days

some missed....data base not turned over to defense? (object- Sidebar)

06-06-2011, 01:59 PM
Cross examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JB.

He is not a chemist, not an analytical chemist, not a bio chemist.

On his cv - b.s. in biology, masters in criminal justice. PhD in anthropology. He stated that was an omission on his prior CV and has updated it since.

His report is a forensic report - co -author Dr. Martin - physicist and Dr. Wise - an analytical chemist. Under his name he put research scientist, not anthropologist. He consults with Dr. Vass because his area of expertise is chemistry. Dr. Vass's last chemistry class would have been in the eighties. He has never allowed people to think he is a chemist.

Has he read a Facebook post saying he is a bio-chemist. He has never posted anything on Facebook. He has never submitted anything to Wiki. He has never authorized Oakridge Lab to hold him out as a chemist.

He does not have a financial interest in this case.

Two papers he relies on comprise and built a database. The peer publication is what he uses to render his opinions. The database was used to present the data in the publications.

The database consists of 478 chemical compounds. They buried 4 bodies (2004 paper), set up instruments to measure what was generated at the body, what was moving up the soil and what was being liberated at the surface of the soil. It took 17 days for the chemicals that are generated at the body to migrate up through the soil column to the surface.

JB asked if the database was turned over to the defense.

Sidebar #4 or 5?

06-06-2011, 02:08 PM
Continued cross examination of Dr. Arpad Vass by JB

Objection overruled.

The database is not his to turn over. It was a "deliverable" to the organization who paid for the research. He does not know if it has been turned over. He actually thought it had been turned over. Without the grant money, there is no research. They are a research lab. Their product is research data. Part of his job is to bring in research money.

He holds the patent of the "Labradore" equipment which utilizes the compounds found in the 2008 paper. It is a hand held device that looks like a metal detector. His position requires him to file invention disclosures. This equipment was formulated thru a grant for the Department of Justice. It is the lab's decision whether or not to file a patent. He has no say in that decision at all. His goal is not to sell the equipment at all - rather to develop it. The goal was to create a technological tool that law enforcement could use to locate clandestine graves.

If a licensee licenses the patent, there is a royalty fee associated with that, but he considers it an insignificant amount. He doesn't know if the royalty is related to the number of units sold. 15% royalties is split between the inventors.

JB wanting to know if part of the process is to get verification in Court - objection by SA - sustained.

In 2006 there was an initial prototype. His CV shows other products.

Objection - improper impeachment -


06-06-2011, 02:08 PM
object overrule-
refused to turn over to defense....not mine to turn over.....part of a research - not turned over to defense Dr. V. thought it was turned over because had depo on this just the other day ....thought given the database...
used this database...turned over to people who gave grant.....research scientist must apply for grants....our product is research data...bring in suffiencent $ to maintain research....hold patent on Labradore....on patent disclosure.....uses compounds in 2008 paper.....partially - doesn't use every compound in data base...

devices to sell to police depts all over country.....required to file invention disclosure....Nat. grant from Institute of Justice..instrument to aid and augment clandestine graves...invention developed dutifiully and correctly filed invention disclosure....lab decsion whether to file a patent - Dr. V has no authority to

Dr. V is not to sell these at all...his goal is to develop - someone could come in and patent they could use to locate clandestine graves....prior to this being sold must have court of law (object- sustained) royalties if this device is sold? I don't understand the tech. resources @ lab....he understands there is a royalty fee associated with that but it is insignificant ..of.amt of $ you get depends on how many of these are sold.....I don't know I think it's licensee ......15% of royalties? split between the inventors....

built it with same funding source given for labradore?
no but done around the same time....

first patent disclosure on a prototype that did not end up being final product...in CV you have subsequent patents (object- impeach - sidebar)

06-06-2011, 02:20 PM
object - sustained

Dr. V w/JB

must disclose financial interest? don't think that is true...

HHBP - Dr.do you understand the question?
disclose financial interest w/database? No not in report to inspector and detective..... work in research lab different from forensic...research lab does experiments...research lab don't have protocols.....usually develop protocals in research lab......

no protocols in this case....protocols used outlined in 2008 paper....cryfocus, used gcms ....those protocols used ...

nothing in writing tell what procedure to tell you what todo when.

all you have to look @ procedures and protocols listed those publication

publication studied buried remains.....2004 study buried remains...2008 study included others.....

no quality control? we run blanks, standards all part of quality control.....used in this case....any writing to confirm no contamination....what type contamination? volitle chemicals....certain components could be contaminated? instruments or samples? I believe Dr. Wise wrote down all of that ....don't recall anything other than Dr. wises notes....

qualitative analysis - identify certain chemicals..how much chemical is there....big peak or minute peak....like to be precise.......especially occassions as precise as possible.

qualitative analysis what was present then give rough idea of how much present....big or little amounts.

issued report in Aug. as preliminary report - tells what look @ so far...not final conclusions...aware before conclusion reported to media you had found human decomp in this car? (object- sustained - approach)

06-06-2011, 02:20 PM
Continued cross exam of Dr. Arpad Vass by JB

Financial disclosure required for some journals. JB asked him if he filed a financial disclosure in his report in this case. He did not.

Research lab/forensics lab - research data is their product. Usually the research lab develops and establishes the protocols. Some of their testing has protocols. For this case the protocols are published in the 2008 and 2004 peer reviewed publications. He does not think that is totally different than what he did in this case. Procedurely they used the same things. It is found the Materials and Methods section. If you want to replicate an experiment, the procedures and protocols are listed in the publications. Buried remains were part of the 2004 study. In the 2008 study they looked at surface and skeletal bodies.

Quality control - they run blanks and standards.

Regarding contamination - the bench notes would address any contamination issue.

He did a qualitative analysis in this case. This meant they were identifying certain chemicals. As opposed to quantitative analysis which measures the amount. Qualitative can also address the size of the peeks. They were looking at whether the compounds were present or not and then a rough idea as to the abundance - big, little, trace.

His preliminary report was issued in August. It did not contain his final conclusions.

JB asked him if he issued an opinion to the media before his report that there was decomp in the trunk. Objection - move to strike.


06-06-2011, 02:50 PM
Continued Cross exam of Dr. Arpad Vass by JB.

Preliminary report issued in August 2008.

He doesn't know if his report became publicly immediately. He was made aware that it was issued to the public.

He was upset with all the media attention as shown in an email exchange with CSI Vincent.

He agreed his conclusions were being discussed before he finished his work. He was not pleased with it.

The carpet sample showed 54 chemical compounds - per his first report.

JB then showed him his second report.

Preliminary report #2 showed 51 chemical compounds. The reason for the differences is that they realized there was some overlap of gasoline. Some compounds have more than one name. They then eliminated some of the duplications, resulting in the 51 compounds.

In report #1, of the 54, 43 were consistent with decomp.

In report #2, of the 51, 41 were consistent with decomp.

After that, on the first report - only 19 overlapped with gasoline components.

In report #2, 17 overlapped with gasoline components.

He doesn't recall if he came up with the same percentage. He stated that his conclusions were, OF COURSE, not based on these numbers.

He considered the final report to be most accurate.

At the junk yard they got 3 Pontiac Sunfires - later corrected in the final report to 2. They intentionally chose the worst possible urban like situation to compare. They considered a new carpet to be an unfair comparison. He thinks the initial error of 3 cars, was that they took two samples from one of the two cars. He later did an affidavit correcting this error.

Sometimes he takes notes along the way, and sometimes he doesn't. Regarding bench notes, he did not review Dr. Wise's.

JA objects - HHBP - are you using Dr. Wise's bench notes? Objection sustained.

He doesn't know the history of the junk yard cars or the car in Florida. He is doing a comparative analysis. One of the two junk yard cars had trace amounts of chloroform. They did a qualitative analysis.

He agreed he has not done a study of chemicals in carpet in general.

Chemical compound of garbage depends on what is in the garbage.

He got a list of the items found in the trash. He did not see the items - just the list. He did not witness the actual garbage and did not know what the chemical breakdown of each item. However, they did sample the air of the composite of the garbage, but didn't recall the date.

JB asks for a moment.

The samples were taken on 8/30/08 - Exhibit 122 - Not on July 16. Air is free flowing and the chemical composition can change from moment to moment.

He doesn't know what was done to the garbage between 7/16 and 8/30/08.

He was directed to his table showing the breakdown of the air samples (table 1). He did not reference Exhibit 118 - the air sample of the trunk, in his table because the complete liner had been removed. It was not a valid comparison.

The table indicates that without doubt, the point source of the odor, was the trunk. They did an analysis showing trace amounts of sulfur and chloroform even after the liner had been removed, which he felt was not a valid comparison.

17 chemical compounds - 7 were relevant to decomp. Because of trace, they reduced it to 5. They were very, very conservative. This number was then reduced to 3 that did not overlap.

He mentioned difusion - if the trash was in the car and the liner was emanating, a small amount of that could have adhered to the trash.

You cannot account for, but you can make an assumption based on quantity.

Assumptions are sometimes relevant in conclusions - common sense included.

06-06-2011, 02:54 PM
Continued cross of Dr. Vass by JB.

He is not a physicist.

LIBS - calcium, magnesium, sodium, carbon and iron. All found in the environment.

He is not a chemist.

He doesn't know how long the junk yard car was there. In most cases, the cars in the junk yard had trunk lids that were open. He was told that.

Afternoon recess to 3:15.

06-06-2011, 03:48 PM
Jury excused.

JB proffer of Dr. Vass. ICA talking to DS.

He was asked to test soil samples from the Barker ranch in 2008. He then went on a trip to the actual site and used several instruments in several locations. As a result, an exploratory excavation ensued. At the depth they dug, they did not find anything. But, at the depth they dug, they just got to the surface of the original ground 40 years ago.

He made the statement at that time that they did not understand the environmental parameters enough. He feels the chemistry is well established.

He was asked if he made the statement that the science was at its infancy. Objection by JA - sustained.

Error rates for coming up with body after GCMS? He said that in 2007-08 they did not fully understand environmental parameters, for example - barometric pressure.

Statement to AP in 2008 - trying to improve science, it is still in its infancy - he could not verify this statement and feels it was taken out of context.

No further questions by JB.

Cross exam of proffer by JA - the limitation of the depth of the dig was time constraints and it was exploratory. No one knows at this point if there are bodies there or not.

HHBP clarifies the Barker Ranch is where Charles Manson buried people. The witness said the murders occurred 40 or 50 years ago and had no bearing on this case.

HHBP - questions regarding Barker Ranch - objections will be sustained. Is irrelevant and immaterial to this case unless it can be shown that it has some bearing or relationship to this case.

Jury coming back in.

06-06-2011, 03:48 PM
Jury excused will get back to them as soon as they can....

matter to take up without jury present....

Mr. Baez - proceed w/profer....in 3/2008 asked to analyse soil samples for barker ranch....sent soil samples....used gcms....initial findings consistent w/decomp event...later went back to that site.....used samples .....exploratory excavation...

missed some testimony....

we didn't understand environmental factors well enough....the chemicals we understood....

did you make statement while granting interview w/media ....science in it's infancy.....object-sustained unless date time and place....

only time used this specific data base...barker ranch? no

coming up with bodies on gcms - what are error rates? you can measure error rates ....doesn't apply ....in 2007 and 2008 timeframe didn't understand fully environmental perimeters.....

no further questions


on 522/08 - statement of AP reads statement from a reporter...don't know what question was...did you say this is most frustrated I have been? sounds like something I would say.....digging holes is not something....

JA up - time constraints - full explanation...any indications that a burial situation happend....

Barker ranch is a ranch where Charles Manson murdered and buried some people....murders 40 - 50 years ago - no bearing on this case at all..

question deal w/barker ranch - objection will be sustained....cross contamination with trash in car vs. odor of decomp ok to ask but Barker ranch is irrelevant and immaterial....environmental conditional unless shown bearing or relationship to this particluar case......

take a break before return jury

guess allright -
return the jury

06-06-2011, 03:53 PM
Jury back.

Cross Examination of Dr. Vass by JB.

Moving to area of protocols - part of which could include specific instructions for collecting samples, which could be to not collect samples where gasoline is present - also trash. He feels JB is taking this out of context - these were written in response to an investigator wanting to take samples in a large area like an open field. They did not want the control sample to come from an area in the big field where there is trash, unless that is part of the crime scene. The question that was asked "where should I collect the control sample?" in a 40 acre field.

He was then asked about divining rods. JA asked for a SIDEBAR.

06-06-2011, 03:53 PM
JB asks Dr. V protocols ....don't try to contaminate these areas with gasoline....common sense...samples were obtained that contained gasoline....where evidence was ...free of trash debris....obvious source of samples ...object -0 overrule.......example trash aerosol, etc....spiled softdrink can produce false readings......

these are protocols....wrote those protocols in response to investigator who wanted to collected samples over a large area ...don't want to collect samples where a large area of trash...don't want samples from trash....correct unless trash is part of the scene....in large area questions came up where should collection be - common sense.....in a big field.....can create a false ....sure .....

evidence is evidence

divining rods - Dr. V smiles - giggles -

object - sidear

06-06-2011, 03:58 PM
Dr. Vass now join the lawyers and judge at Sidebar. PARTY!

06-06-2011, 03:59 PM
Bill Sheaffer says it is highly unusual for a witness to go to the sidebar and it has happened twice in this case. He also says there are not usually this many sidebars.

06-06-2011, 04:16 PM
Continued Cross examination of Dr. Vass by JB.

He knows what divining rods are. They are an antannae used to locate specific properties of specific materials. It could be made of a coat hanger. He has taught on this subject. It is a hobby of his that teaches wonderful scientific principals.

Has he been offered a million dollars to prove this? JA objection - sustained.

HHBP - Mr. Baez - get to the points I said you could get to.

You also put electronic leashes on flies? JA objection - sustained.

This is the first time he has given this type of testimony in a court of law.

There is a paper by Dr. Staphalopolis (sp LOL) that looked at whole bodies who also identified 4 components, but not chloroform. He is the only other person who has used entire bodies. Others have only used pieces of tissues which he would not feel compatible. Dr. S was looking at single time point - Oakridge did a 4 to 5 year study.

To him, the smell of human decomp is unique. 12/14/08 - statement to Knoxville newspaper - smells like a potato going bad - amazingly similar.

JB conferring with DS.

Key marker of human decomp - halogenated fluoride compounds. They did not find this in the car or in the positive control. The positive control was of a blanket of a body of a child that had been in the trunk of a car for three months, but he did not know any other history of the control. Nevertheless, they found the 3 primary sulfur compounds. The purpose was to determine if the compounds found in the ICA car, could be formed in the trunk.

Of the 30 compounds found, once the eliminations are made for overlaps or duplicates, 10 remain - and of those 10, 8 were found in this car.

He did not personally collect the samples. He agrees he does not know the history of the samples. He did not know the history of the junk yard samples, the Montana car, blanket from that case. He did not take a carpet sample from that car.

He agreed this is the first time he collected a car trunk carpet sample and stated the wonderful thing about forensic science is that every sample is unique.

JB conferring with DS.

Is he a member of the Academy of Forensic Sciences? No, not currently.

He is not a member of the American Board of Anthropology.

He is not a member of any professional organizations. He said his background is so diverse that he didn't know which to join.

He is being paid to be creative and to think outside of the box.

No further questions by JB.

06-06-2011, 04:28 PM
REDIRECT Examination of Dr. Vass by JA -

Scientific curiosity has governed his work rather than financial. The last 20 years of his career has centered around the chemistry of decomp. He does not feel he has a financial interest in this case.

He recalled his depo by JB in 2010. He had to confer with someone else regarding the procedures of the royalties at the time his depo was taken. He had no interest in that. He found out afterwards.

In seeking a control sample of carpet, he tried to find the most contaminated carpet he could. That is a reason for going to the junkyard.

Odor diffusion relates to a process going from higher concentration to lower concentration of chemicals. That is the significance of finding the point source of the odor. The spare tire cover carpet sample had the highest concentration. He thinks Mike Vincent sent him the MDS on Blue Star and he looked up the MDS on Fabreeze. They must consult an MDS. Neither Blue Star nor Fabreeze contain chloroform.

Meat - fatty acids. The meat would have to be raw, high fat, mammal, big enough to make stain found. It would have to be decomposing in an anerobic environment.

So - a couple pounds of hamburger, wrapped in a bag, sealed, left in a trunk of a car to rot with bacteria normally found in a human body - this MAY cause. Couldn't be caused by someone eating a hamburger and wiping their face. He did not see any traces of hamburger.

Staphalopolis study - a one time examination of 2 bodies, floating the Med. Sea. He knows there was quite a lot of overlap in the compounds they each found.

Regarding the positive control - since they had never studied a human decomposing in the trunk of a car before, they looked for a control. They were able to find another case in Montana where a 3 year old had died and was left in a blanket in the trunk of a car for three months. The point of this control was to confirm that compounds such as we saw in this trunk that were consistent with human decomp could be formed in this type of environment.

This car and the positive control had 4 compounds in common. Chloroform was found in this car and not in the control.

The Montana blanket did not have fluorinated compounds, but ICA car did. Adults produce a number of fluorinated compounds. It is assumed - JB objected - overruled.

It is assumed the fluorinated compounds accumulate in a body over time. Then when you die and decompose, this is converted to fluorinated compounds. If you go to t a country that does not fluorinate their water, you don't see these levels.

In a small child, it is assumed that enough time has not passed for the accumulation of fluorinated compounds for it to show up in decomp process. Same in Montana case.

No further questions by JA.

06-06-2011, 04:29 PM
divining rod are antennas locate ....can use wire coat hangar ...if right material.....hobby of Dr. V....just like stamp collecting.....challenged to crediblity offered a million dollars? object- sustain attempted to put electronic leashes on flies object sustained.....

what you are testifying to today first time database entred into court of law....i don't know if someone has another database...

your findings not accepted in general scientific community object-sustain

Dr. Stephanopolis - looked @ bodies....4 or 5 compound he didn't find chloroform....he is in Greece - in entire world only person who agrees with your findings is this guy in Greece? A gentle man in Greece agrees with you - he used entire bodies others only look @ tissue...he was looking @ a single time point ....we were looking @ 4-5 year study.

JB back @ table....testify smell of human decomp is unique....to Dr. V it is....
Knoxville news on 12/4/08 smells like a potato gone bad....very similar to human decomp...believe he made that statement...actually looked @ potato chemical composition...... JB consults w/DS....

one key markers of human decomp is fluoride....a fluoride compound ...didn't find any in this case.....positive control....object - sustain.....positive control - blanket from body of a child in trunk of car...don't know how collected/stored any controls....

of 30 key markers....twist things around a tad

eliminate gas and floride compounds....only seen late in decomp....leaves 10 compounds leaves 8 of them.....80%....from items Dr. V didn't collect trunk sample, air, blanket, samples @ junkyard....have no idea of their history and makeup - chemical analysis of makeup done....

what was in trunk of pontiac sunfire in 10 yrs in Florida...don't know chemical makeup of was junkyard samples....we tested those....dont know history of car from Montana sample ....child in that case wrapped in blanket ...blanket was stained....not a control....thank goodness don't find a lot of kids in trunk....

very first time conducted sample on carpet sample....wonderful thing about forensic science is every sample is unique.

JB checks w'/DS 0 going over papers....

JB not a member of american academy of sciences
member of american...board

not member of any professional organizations....no and background is so diverse don't know which one to join.....think outside the box.....consider more an explorer in science? object- sustained

JA - which would you say governs career - scientific curiosity or money....scientific curiousity...

inquisition? deposition taken 12/22/10 patent issues and royalty issues....unfortuantely - had to refer to someone else had no understanding of the procedures....never had an interest in it...had to go and ask people for education of that in order to answer question today...control carpet....tried to find most contaminated sample you could...contaminated sample reason to go to junkyard....talked about diffusion....odor diffusion...process where chemical goes from higher concentrations to lower concentrations piece of plastics one with compound X with parts per trillion and one with parts per million - that one could never contaminate the other.....

bluestar & febreze- looked up msds - sent to him - Dr. V loooked up Febreze..before use any chemical in Nat. Lab must look @ msds ...neither bluestar nor febreeze contained chloroform...

volitile fatty acids in paper towels....give scenario

raw meat, uncooked, high fat not butterfat or milk, from mammel, sufficie3nt size to create stain found in trunk of car....object - overrule

probably be anaerobic - with certain type of bacteria found wihtin human body

couple pounds of raw high fat hamburger wrapped in bag, bacteria found ....couldn't be caused by someone eating a hamburger...any evidence of hamburger? No No

DT asked about Dr. Stephanopolis...2 bodies floating in Mediterranian sea....compounds he found ....among the 470 you found...you found additional ones....significant overlap...

positive control - decomp human in trunk of a car...looked around for one....an adult was not a good comparison....found a child wrapped in blanket in trunk of car 3y/o for 3 months. - unfortunate but used this data compounds

5 compounds 4 were formed and other one was chloroform....

floridated compounds - test 3 y/o in Montana - not present - opinion (object- overrule) floridated compounds ...fluorine....assumed that florinated compounds accumulate in human body over process accumulate in body much like lead paint chips eat a lot there will accumulate more.....florinated water compounds....in Brussels you don't see these compounds in the body decomp...small child assumed child maybe drank water but not enough time passed to accumulate enough fluoride to show up.....consistent with other countries that don't fluroidate their water..

06-06-2011, 04:34 PM
Recross of Dr. Vass by JB.

He agreed that the fluoride issue in children has not been studied.

Bio-accumulation is a well known phenom.

Is it an opinion based on something that has not been studied? Yes, but founded in a well known phenom called bio-accumulation.

He was told that the paper towels were found in the trash bags.

Dr. Haskell sent him the paper towels. On them he identified fly pupa - JB withdrew question.

Does the paper towel have anything to do with the stain? He does not have that info.

Something attracted the flies to the paper towels. There was no meat residue on the paper towels. There WERE fatty acids consistent with the break down.

Regarding marijuana - objection by JA - sustained.

Witness may stand down, but JA says there is an issue that needs to be addressed outside of the hearing of the jury.

Sidebar - jury can stand and stretch.

06-06-2011, 04:34 PM
JB your opinion of something never been studied (floride in children remains

paper towel found in trash bag and stain had nothing to do with each other....Dr. Haskell identified JB stopped him

Dr. Haskell sent those paper towels identified fly pupae cases....JB objects outside..

no idea if those paper towels have anything to do with that stain...do not

willing to tell this jury - found in conjuction in trunk of car don't see why not relevant....fatty acids could be found in meat found on that paper towels.....somthing attracted the flies to thepaper towls....

don't know if clean up meat after cooking....no meat found on paper towels....fat in breakdown in adipocere ....now marijuana (object-sustained X2 and 3rd time)

Dr may stand down....

Jury to stretch break = Sidebar for scheduling

06-06-2011, 04:37 PM
HHBP - the next witness will be lengthy that will take more than 25 minutes. Rather than start and stop, they are going to break for the day and start afresh in the morning.

JB, CM and JA at sidebar regarding scheduling issue.

Jury excused.

Jury excused until 9:00 a.m

06-06-2011, 04:41 PM
Jury out of the courtroom.

JA stating Dr. Vass served with subpoena for database. JA states that is in violation of FS and asks the subpoena to be quashed.

HHBP reading in a book.

JB voluntarily withdrawing the subpoena.

JB wants to recall Dr. Vass in their case in chief.

Witness may go home and come back later.

Court in recess to 9:00 a.m.

06-07-2011, 09:53 AM

JS wants to correct a mistake from yesterday. He was shown Exhibit I.R. and asked if he recognized it as the can he was sent, as opposed to the one he was shown yesterday which was I.O. He recognized his initials on I.R. This was the can he tested.

JB objection - overruled.

JS - Can (I.R.) was entered into evidence.

No further questions by J.S.


Yesterday you testified about a piece of evidence that you did not examine?

I looked at a can.

Objection by SA.


06-07-2011, 10:02 AM
CONTINUED recross of Dr. Vass by JB regarding the can incorrectly placed into evidence yesterday by the State.

You mistakenly admitted the wrong piece of evidence yesterday? Apparently.

And this was after you had read the label? Yes.

You are a Research lab

Objection by SA - sustained

Not accustomed to handling evidence?

Objection by SA - overruled

We are not a forensic lab.

Objection by SA to scope - sustained

Witness excused.

State asks for a few minutes to pull evidence for next witness.

Recess until 10:20.