Appeals court to
review evidence in slaying case
HAD TOSSED EVIDENCE IMPLICATING HARMS SUSPECT
By Connie Skipitares
The 6th District Court of Appeal has agreed to hear a challenge
by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office that involves
crucial evidence in the case against Jeanine Harms murder suspect
The news is encouraging for prosecutors, who worried that their
case might collapse if the appeals court decided not to hear it.
Prosecutors have built their case against Nasmeh on fiber evidence
found in his car that they say connects him to Harms' murder. A
Superior Court judge last February threw out that evidence, which
would have undermined the high-profile case.
The district attorney appealed the ruling by Santa Clara County
Superior Court Judge Linda Condron to the 6th District court.
The appellate court's decision, handed down last week, pleased
prosecutors. ``We're still in there,'' Santa Clara County Assistant
District Attorney David Tomkins said.
The state Attorney General's Office is representing the district
attorney's office in the appeal.
Condron had ruled that Los Gatos police violated their search
protocol by seizing Nasmeh's Jeep Grand Cherokee, a move not allowed
by their warrant. Condron said it was unacceptable for the vehicle
to be kept for more than three weeks, so she barred crucial fiber
evidence found in the car from being used at trial. Nasmeh's
attorney, Daniel Jensen of San Jose, filed the original motion to
suppress that evidence.
``I was hoping they were just going to go along with us and throw
the attorney general and DA out on their ear,'' Jensen said. ``But
Nasmeh's SUV contained fibers that investigators say connect
Nasmeh to Harms, a 42-year-old Los Gatos woman who disappeared in
July 2001. Nasmeh, 42, a Campbell architect, and Harms met for the
first time in a Campbell bar on the evening of July 27, 2001, and
went together to another bar, then to her Los Gatos duplex. She was
never seen again. Her body has not been found.
The fibers match a yarn crafts project that Harms had worked on
in her home, as well as fibers found on Harms' area rug, which
police believe was used in disposing of her body. Nasmeh's attorney
says the fibers are commonly found in car seat insulation, including
Without the fiber evidence, Nasmeh's attorney says there's
nothing to connect his client to the homicide.
Prosecutors believe that Los Gatos police had the right to
impound Nasmeh's car because they had probable cause to believe it
contained evidence of a crime and was used to dispose of Harms'
The 6th District Court of Appeal has given defense attorneys
until Sept. 25 to file opposition arguments. The Attorney General's
Office is expected to file a reply, and oral arguments will be
scheduled after that, possibly in November.
Nasmeh has been held in Santa Clara County Jail without bail
since his December 2004 arrest.