Defense lawyers on Tuesday tried to put detectives and an
evidence manager under the microscope as the witnesses described how
the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department handled the tiny rug
fibers that lie at the heart of a murder case against a San Jose
Authorities allegedly connected Maurice Nasmeh to the death of
42-year-old Los Gatos resident Jeanine Sanchez Harms through yarn
fibers from a crafts project. Those fibers from a latch hook rug
Harms was making, prosecutors say, were found inside the cargo area
of Nasmeh's sport-utility vehicle.
Harms disappeared on July 27, 2001, after a late-night date with
Nasmeh and another man, who has not been charged. Police say Nasmeh
was the last person to see her alive.
Harms' disappearance touched off one of the highest profile
missing-person cases in the South Bay. Her remains have never been
On the third day of a preliminary hearing, prosecutor Dale
Sanderson asked detectives Steve Walpole, John Campos and Leyton
Howard, and evidence manager Larry Brown to identify and explain the
various pieces of physical evidence they obtained during an
investigation that lasted the better part of four years before
Nasmeh was arrested Dec. 16.
At the end of the hearing, which prosecutors said might continue
today, Superior Court Judge Edward Lee must decide whether there is
enough evidence to send Nasmeh to trial.
Defense lawyers William Welch and Daniel Jensen methodically
questioned the police witnesses about their training and experience
with collecting trace evidence, when and where they collected it,
where they stored it, who else had access to it, and whether they
followed appropriate procedures to ensure that the samples were not
The witnesses insisted everything was done by the book.
Rug fibers, hairs, fingerprints and other such physical evidence
were collected from Harms' apartment and Nasmeh's home and
Nasmeh, wearing a red shirt, brown pants and orange slippers
issued by the jail, seemed to be actively helping his lawyers.
Wearing the close-cropped beard he sported before he went to jail,
the balding Nasmeh paid close attention to the witnesses, and leaned
over to whisper to his attorneys at various points.
Nasmeh has pleaded not guilty, contending that he left Harms'
apartment after she fell asleep.