Experts say orange fibers on victims’ clothing were ‘indistinguishable’ from Isaak’s sweatshirt & mask on day 12 of trial

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Monday of the Mandan Murder Trial ended with experts testifying that Robert Fakler’s DNA could not be excluded from swabs taken from Chad Isaak’s truck. But Tuesday morning, defense attorneys began questioning forensic biologist and former North Dakota Crime Lab employee Kyle Splichal.

”In this case, for item 14, you didn’t say it was a match, right?” said Defense Attorney Luke Heck.

”I did not,” said Splichal.

”You didn’t say that it was consistent either, correct?” said Heck.

”I did not,” answered Splichal.

”You said that it could not be excluded?” said Heck.

”That is correct,” replied Splichal.

But Splichal confirmed to prosecutors that the victim’s blood most likely was found in a swab from Isaak’s truck.

”Based on the ten genetic loci that were used to calculate the frequency, the population statistic was greater than one and 100 billion, and whenever that occurs the laboratory’s policy states that we would not expect to see that profile among unrelated individuals in the world population,” said Splichal.

Then the state moved on to experts who tested firearms and ammunition.

Arnie Esposito, a firearm and tool mark examiner with ATF, testified that the fired bullets he tested could have come from one gun due to the similar rifling impressions. He compared them to bullets seized from Isaak.

“I found that all of the characteristics of the bullets loaded in these cartridges are consistent with the fired bullets that I examined, as well as the cartridge case has the same headstamp and composition, brass material as the cartridge cases I compared,” said Esposito.

Defense attorneys asked about different guns that the housing in Isaak’s freezer could belong to and asked about the number of different guns that could have fired the bullets found in the victims.

”OK, and ultimately, conclude that 76 different firearms could have fired the victim bullets, correct?” said Defense Attorney Jesse Walstad.

”That’s right, yes,” said Esposito.

Amy Michaud, a forensic chemist and trace evidence examiner with the ATF, testified about orange fibers that were found on the victim’s clothing.

The fibers were compared to an orange sweatshirt and a ski mask that was found at Chad Isaak’s residence.

”So, the light orange polyesters from that known ski mask, you found that there were consistent fibers on each of them of the victims?” said Goter.

”Yes, I did,” said Michaud.

“And as well in the RJR vehicle?” said Goter.

“Yes,” replied Michaud.

“And in Chad Isaak’s vehicle and his effects?” said Goter.

“Yes,” answered Michaud.

Lead Investigator and Bureau of Criminal Investigation Agent Joe Arenz testified again to the integrity of the investigation. Defense asked him why other guns found at RJR weren’t sent for testing. Arenz said the guns weren’t sent because they hadn’t been fired recently.

After Arenz, the state rested its case. The defense will begin calling witnesses Wednesday, but defense attorney Bruce Quick says they should wrap up by early afternoon. Judge David Reich said that the closing will likely happen Thursday morning.

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