BATAVIA, NY -- Blood spatter on the coveralls worn by Scott F. Doll the night Joseph Benaquist was killed suggest that Doll was not the one who bludgeoned Benaquist to death, said an expert witness brought in by the defense.
It's nearly impossible, said Herbert MacDonell, of Corning, that the spatter on the coveralls and the spatter on a Ford Windstar, which Doll seems to have been driving that night came, from the same impact event in a source of blood.
In fact, MacDonell said, the spatter on the coveralls is more consistent with expirated blood (such as if Benaquist coughed it up while talking with Doll).
MacDonell postulated that if the person who killed Benaquist was holding him down with his left hand, kneeling over him, beating him using a blunt object in his right hand, then the left sleeve of the coveralls should be covered with a lot more blood than it is.
Further, MacDonell said, the back swings of the assislant would cause spatter on the back shoulder and the back leg of the coveralls, and there is only one spatter spot on the back leg of the coveralls.
The inconsistancy with MacDonell's testimony -- which was not clearly drawn out by either the prosecution or the defense -- is that there has been no evidence introduced thus far (and the prosecution has rested its case) that the murderer was kneeling and holding Benaquist down at the time of the attack.
In fact, Cambria has pursued a line of questions with other witnesses that suggests Benaquist fought for his life, causing blood transfer on two nearby vehicles, including the underside of a Nissan Altima.
It's unclear, based on today's testimony, where MacDonell came up with the assumption that Benaquist's killer was kneeling and holding him down with his left hand.
Based on his examination this morning of the blood spatter on the coveralls, MacDonell concluded that the spatter was from a blood source that had already started to clot.
Fresh blood, he said, would immediately soak into the fabric, but in this case, MacDonell said, the blood drops landed on the coveralls and didn't penetrate the cloth, sitting there, he said, "like a fried egg."
This would suggest, he said, that the person wearing the coveralls came in contact with a source of blood spatter some time after the initial attack.
He also said the spatter on the Windstar was consistent with a stronger-force impact into a source of blood than that of the spatter on the coveralls.
Assistant District Attorney Will Zickl asked a series of questions related to possibly faulty assumptions and how a different assumption might change MacDonell's conclusions. But he never asked just why MacDonell thought the killer was holding Benaquist with his left arm.
Autopsy photos show that Benaquist received blows to the sides, front and back of his head, not just one side.
Zickl did try to impeach MacDonell's testimony by drawing out of him that he did not produce a written report for the trial.
MacDonell at first said he didn't need to produce a written report because the conclusions were obvious. He then said that in the months leading up to the trial, he only had photographic evidence to review. He said that if he had received the coveralls to examine, he would have produced a written report. Yet, MacDonell never asked to examine the coveralls and did not do so until about an hour before this morning's testimony.
Zickl also wanted to pursue a line of questioning about peer review, noting that the prosecution's bloodstain-pattern expert wrote a report and put it through technical "peer" review with a colleague of MacDonell's. But after a discussion with the jury out of the room, Judge Robert Noonan ruled that a discussion of the peer review would mean the use of hearsay.