Posted on Fri, Jan. 19, 2007

Date set for review of evidence in slaying

Mercury News

The 6th District Court of Appeal has set Feb. 27 for oral arguments that will address crucial evidence in the case against Maurice Xavier Nasmeh, accused of killing Jeanine Harms of Los Gatos in 2001.

The arguments will focus on whether Los Gatos police violated their search protocol by seizing Nasmeh's Jeep Grand Cherokee when they examined it. Seizing the vehicle had not been allowed by their warrant, though a search was allowed.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Linda Condron last February ruled that police violated the warrant, saying it was unacceptable that the Jeep was impounded for more than three weeks. Subsequently, she barred crucial fiber evidence found in the car from being used at trial.

Condron's ruling threatened to collapse the case against Nasmeh. Prosecutors have built their case on the fiber evidence, which they say connects Nasmeh to Harms' murder. Harms, a 42-year-old Fujitsu employee, disappeared in July 2001 after a date with Nasmeh, a Campbell architect who is now 42.

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. The fibers were also found in the cargo area of Nasmeh's car. Nasmeh's attorney, Dan Jensen of San Jose, says such fibers are commonly found in car seat insulation, including Nasmeh's car.

Without the fiber evidence, Jensen 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' body.

Nasmeh's attorney filed the original motion to suppress that evidence. The state Attorney General's Office is representing the district attorney's office in the appeal.

Nasmeh has been held in Santa Clara County Jail without bail since his December 2004 arrest.

Contact Connie Skipitares at or (408) 920-5647.

2007 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.