been four years since Los Gatos resident Jeanine Harms
went missing, and nine months since Campbell resident
Maurice Nasmeh was arrested in connection with the
murder of Harms.
In what became one of the highest-profile missing
person's cases in the South Bay, Santa Clara County
Superior Court Judge Edward Lee announced on Sept. 12
that there is probable cause to believe that Nasmeh
murdered Harms, and the case will go to trial.
Police believe Nasmeh is the last person to have seen
Harms alive after a night of partying with friends in
Harms' father, Jesus "Jess" Sanchez said that he is
relieved to hear the judge's announcement.
"I thought it would probably go to trial. I had a lot
of confidence in Dale Sanderson," Sanchez said of the
deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County.
One day before the announcement, Harms' longtime
friend Janice Burnham said that she would be surprised
if the case did not go to trial.
"The fact that they had enough evidence to arrest him
is a good sign. I'm going to be completely shocked if
they don't hold him over for trial. I will be
devastated," Burnham said.
The announcement came after the defenses second
witness, Alex Wilson, testified with his attorney
standing next to him. In the early stage of the
investigation, police considered Wilson a suspect.
Jensen requested the judge allow Wilson to testify
because he is an alternate suspect.
On the advice of
his attorney, Wilson answered questions asked by defense
attorney Daniel Jensen by taking the Fifth Amendment.
Among the questions asked were why there was a shovel
found in the back of Wilson's car, if he had a friend
who owned a green jeep, if he called his date with Harms
a date from hell, and if he called her a "psycho-bitch."
While a body still has not been found, Sanderson
linked Nasmeh to the murder of Harms through similar
yarn fibers found in his jeep as on a rug that was once
in Harms' house.
Before the judge's decision
Jensen said that these findings were not enough to take
Nasmeh to trial. Besides Nasmeh seeing Harms the night
before she disappeared, being in the same car together
and in her house, there was no evidence linking him to
her murder or disappearance.
Police say Nasmeh
was a suspect from day one of the investigation.
After what appeared to be a last minute move by the
defense on Sept. 9 to call a witness, the judge
announced the court would reconvene Monday morning.
Nasmeh's attorney, Daniel Jensen, said that the
defense's only witness would not be available until 4:55
p.m. on Sept. 9, to which the judge decided it be best
to return Monday.
Members from the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police
department testified earlier in the week, along with
friends, neighbors and family members of Harms. Mark
Moriyama, a criminalist with the Santa Clara County
District Attorney's Crime Laboratory, was the last
witness called by the prosecution to testify.
Moriyama dedicated hours to examining evidence "tape
lifts" extracted from the sofa, rug and acrylic and wool
products in Harms' house, as well as samples taken from
During cross-examination it was revealed that
Moriyama was suspended in early 2005 by the crime lab
because he did not pass a proficiency test.
"I am temporarily off casework," he said.
Since the test, he has been restricted from
performing the same type of forensics tests as he did
while working on the fiber evidence in connection with
On Monday, Moriyama's superior was called by the
defense to testify in an attempt to discredit Moriyama's
During the trial, however, Moriyama was not the only
person who the defense tried to expose as being
under-qualified or in error.
Jensen and Welch tried to prove that Los Gatos-Monte
Sereno crime analyst Dan Brown did not properly protect
collected evidence, and that officer Steve Wahl didn't
follow through with certain aspects of the
The attorneys also tried to prove reasonable doubt of
a Santa Clara County criminalist who possibly
transferred some of the fibers during the investigation
while collecting samples from Nasmeh's
Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 26 at
1:30 p.m. in department 24 at Santa Clara County