Attorneys deliver closing arguments

  •  UPDATE: The jury returned a guilty verdict at approximately 10 p.m. More information will be in Saturday’s Pioneer.

BIG RAPIDS — Attorneys for both sides presented their closing arguments to the jury early Thursday evening in the criminal sexual conduct trial involving Daniel Carlson, 34, of Farmington Hills.

Carlson is charged with one count of third-degree CSC, which stems from an accusation he assaulted an incapacitated woman in October 2016 at a Halloween party at Tullymore Golf Resort. As of press time, a verdict was not available.

Expert witnesses were the focus of court action Thursday morning in the trial. After Judge Kimberly Booher ruled one person the defense wanted to call as an expert witness could not testify, the defense attorney made a motion for a stay of proceedings to allow the defense to file an interlocutory appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals regarding Booher’s ruling on the witness.

They argued refusing to allow the witness prevented Carlson from exercising his Constitutional right to mount a defense in court. The motion would have paused the trial while a specific appeal on that ruling was made to the Court of Appeals. Booher did not grant the stay.

The defense then called Julie Howenstine, a biology and DNA specialist for Speckin Forensics, LLC, a private consulting firm, who testified as an expert witness.

She described for the jury the process for testing and analyzing DNA, and the difference between STR, or single tandem repeat, testing and YSTR testing, which separates and tests only the male DNA in a sample.

Only men have a Y chromosome, which means every boy inherits his Y chromosome complete from his father. Every male in the same family for generations would have the same Y chromosome DNA, because the mother does not contribute to that chromosome.

YSTR testing is a process which separates and selects DNA from just the Y chromosome and is used in cases where there is both male and female DNA in a sample to prevent the female DNA from masking the male DNA, which can happen if there is relatively little male DNA in the sample. For example, a DNA sample taken from a woman’s body would naturally have her DNA in it, likely in larger quantities than any male DNA present. YSTR testing can separate and identify just the male DNA.

In the DNA test in the case, the presence of more than one male’s DNA was present in the sample. Howenstine explained there was no way to know from the analysis what DNA was present first or second, how it got there or why it was there. Of the male DNA present in the sample, the majority of it corresponded to the defendant’s.

While Howenstine noted the Michigan State Police crime lab report on the DNA said the majority of male DNA present was consistent with the defendent, she pointed out the report also stated nine other men in the database also corresponded with the sample. However, on cross-examination, she agreed a portion of the report indicated the defendant was hundreds of times more likely to be the source of the DNA than other men.

Also taking the stand Thursday morning was Courtney Panter, who also attended the Halloween party in 2016 at Tullymore, which she described as not very memorable.

She testified she met Carlson for the first and only time at the party. She gave her account of the evening and described how Carlson came back to the condo where she and her friends were staying, which is adjacent to the one where the victim stayed. She stated Carlson was in her condo for the entire evening.

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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