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DNA test results shown on day 11 of Mandan Murder Trial

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The trial turned to talk of blood analysis and DNA evidence for the beginning of week three. The prosecution spent the day asking how certain items of evidence collected from the crime scene and from Chad Isaak’s property were tested.

By using a chemical agent, investigators found what they believed was blood on door handles, in the door jams, and on the upholstery when conducting a search of Chad Isaak’s truck.

But the defense asked investigators what this means.

“So, the point is this test doesn’t determine anything. It’s the lab that determines the significances of this if any, correct?” said Defense Attorney Bruce Quick.

“The BLUESTAR determines any possible presence of any hidden blood that we can’t see with the naked eye, but other than DNA testing or any sort of human blood, no it does not,” said Pat Lenertz, BCI special agent.

Investigators didn’t see blood on clothing in surveillance footage or on clothing in Isaak’s dryer. They say there could be an explanation.

“When I was done hunting for the day, I went home, and I put my hunting clothing in the washing machine and washed it. I ran it through a wash cycle,” said Joe Arenz, lead investigator and Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent.

“Even though you had a significant amount of blood on your clothing during hunting, were you able to get it out in the wash,” said Prosecution Attorney Karlei Neufeld.

“I was,” said Arenz.

Some parts of Isaak’s truck tested presumptively positive for human blood, but his clothing, the knife and parts of the gun found in his home did not test positive.

Investigators then sent items to be tested for DNA. But the North Dakota Crime Lab is the only lab in the state and cannot perform all tests. Two out-of-state labs were also used for specific evidence testing. Defense asked about the security of these labs.

“Our practice is always it’s got to be certified, there has to be someone who signs for it at the time that it’s received and then when it’s returned to that agency again, someone picks it up that has to sign for it, the lab has to sign off releasing it,” said Arenz.

The lab could not exclude Robert Fakler’s DNA, one of the victims, from the door jam of Isaak’s truck.

However, Chad Isaak’s DNA was not found in blood samples taken from RJR.

“The driver-side third door latch of Chad Isaak’s vehicle testing positive for human blood. Is that right?” said Gabrielle Goter, assistant state’s attorney.

“Yes, I believe it tested presumptively positive,” said Forensic Biologist Kyle Splichal.

“And there’s more than one contributor at this location as well,” said Goter.

“That’s correct,” said Splichal

“You said that the majority of here matched Chad Isaak?” said Goter.

“Yes, the major profile matched the profile developed for Mr. Isaak,” said Splichal

“And the profile also correlates with Lois Cobb and Robert Fakler?” said Goter.

“Yes, that’s correct,” said Splichal

The defense has regularly objected to the submission of evidence for these tests because the evidence passed through many hands and there could be a concern for the chain of custody.

The defense will have the opportunity to question the DNA findings at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The defense will also have the ability to call witnesses of their own towards the end of the week.

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