Scientists grilled in witness box

Two scientists spent a total of three days in the witness box as the murder trial continues against Viraj Alahakoon and Prawesh Sawal. Accused of killing Sameera Battelage, counsels for each defendant certainly kept the expert witnesses on their toes.

First up was Rosalyn Rough, a forensic science examiner with the crown entity ESR.  (A sort of female version of the role ‘Dexter’ in the tv series of the same name, about a blood-splatter analysis expert). Rosalyn Rough’s tme in the box started on Wednesday and continued through until Friday morning.

The defence counsels gave a spirited performance in their cross examinations in support of their clients’ defence (the accused men each have separate counsel, with Mr Hall and Kerry Cook appearing for Mr Alakahoon and John Brandts-Gieson and Andrew McCormick for Mr Sawal.

At one point, with the judge’s consent, Rosalyn Rough left the witness box to demonstrate a position on the court-room floor, which she said was the only position which would lead to the blood stains on the clothing she examined. For the purposes of that demonstration, members of the jury, counsel, the accused men (and the judge), were allowed to move into position to gain a better view. A court officer took photos which could later be entered in to the official record.

When quizzed as to whether any other positions could lead to the  same pattern of staining she discovered, Rosalyn Rough said she couldn’t think of any herself, but that if someone was able to suggest an alternate scenarios, then she would be able to give a professional opinion.

It was as part of this cross-examination process that some more hints of the defence strategy for Mr Sawal became revealed. Mr Brandts-Giesen said that his client Prawesh Sawal, would be later testifying that he was on an outdoor porch having a cigarette, when he heard a noise inside. Seeing through a crack in the curtain that a fight was underway, he rushed inside to try to separate his co-accused Mr Alahakoon, from the victim Mr Battelage, and that it was in the process of this, that his hands and clothes became covered with blood.

That explanation which seems quite plausible, however does not sit well with Rosalyn Rough’s scenario where Mr Battelage  would have been reclined on a sofa at the time that one or several of the knife wounds were inflicted.

After all cross examinations of her had concluded, a DNA specialist from ESR spent less than an hour in the box. Kitty Kai testified that fingernail scrapings taken from Mr Alahakoon by police some days after the event, showed no sign of any DNA, except for that of Mr Alahakoon himself.

The trial continues.

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