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2009 - 2 November - Monday - Curtis Lavelle Vance has pled Not Guilty to: Burglary, Rape, and Capital Murder in the slaying of Little Rock, Arkansas TV anchorwoman, Anne Pressly.
12 jurors and 2 alternates are chosen for the trial.
Prosecution: "DNA evidence will provide all the proof necessary to convince them (the jury) that Vance is guilty and also linked to another brutal rape."
Defense: "Vance was arrested only because police were under pressure to arrest someone in connection with Pressly's death. Vance was tricked into giving up his DNA to police and into giving them three conflicting confessions."
ANNE PRESSLY'S MOTHER:
Patty Cannady "I used to call at 3 A.M. to make sure Anne was awake for work. October 20, 2008, I'd called repeatedly, with no answer. I rushed to Anne's house.
"It was horrific." "I absolutely could not take the scene in. I could not imagine what I was seeing when I found my daughter."
"I found the back door wide open, and inside, Anne was lying in a fetal position on her bed gasping for breath in a pool of blood. "It was Anne, but she was so swollen and her hair was completely matted with blood, she was beaten beyond recognition." "There was blood on the ceiling. That's how horrific her attack was." "I tried to stop her bleeding with towels from the bathroom."
Five days after the attack, Anne's brain stem ruptured and she died.
Patty Cannady "What kind of monster are you that would take the life of an innocent child?" Patti Cannady asked. "What fills you with rage and hatred and no respect for human life? Why did you have to hurt my child and take her life?"
Little Rock Police Department's Crime Scene Search Unit:
Stuart Bartlett (Technician) - "describes bloody sheets and towels taken from Pressly's home and
speaks of a "possible tooth" plus hair and a bathrobe. Photographs of the items are shown. Blood spatters were above the bed's headboard and on the ceiling and nightstand."
Defense cross examination - Queries Bartlett about the method used in gathering fingerprints at the house.
Stan Wilhite (Technician) - Wilhite testifies regarding "prints at the Pressly home. He was also called to MacArthur Park 2 -3 days later to collect a paper bag believed to have bloodstains on it.
The unit processed the black Chevy Monte Carlo driven by Vance at the time, removing the seats, etc., and vacuuming for evidence."
Marianna Arkansas Biology Teacher:
Kristen Edwards - April 21, 2008, Edwards was raped by a stranger in her home.
Kristen Edwards "I had just gotten out of the shower that Monday morning before school and was walking through my living room when a man came up behind me and put his hand over my mouth. "He said 'I have a gun, don't do anything, don't look at me, or I'll kill you."
"The man was angry and loud and pushed me onto my couch face down, where he raped me, saying over and over again that he would kill me if I looked at him and "I know your house."
"After the rape, he put my purse in front of me and demanded my money. I gave him all the money in the purse -- $3 -- and he asked for my ATM card. I said I was between paydays and didn't know how much was in my account, which made him even louder and angrier."
"The attacker then pushed me out my back door onto an enclosed back porch and locked me there. When I heard my front door slam, I ran to a neighbors home, but no one was there. I returned to my house through the front door to get my keys and saw that my phone and its charger and a DVD were gone. I drove to the home of two fellow teachers and called police. I was transported to a Forrest City hospital, where a rape kit was taken and I was given medication."
"My car had been broken into two weeks earlier and a GPS unit that I thought contained a house key had been stolen."
Defense "Did your attacker ever strike you?
Kristen Edwards "no."
Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson "Why do you think that was?"
Kristen Edwards "It was because I am "100 percent compliant." If I hadn't been, I would be dead."
Arkansas State Crime Lab Technicians:
Krista Hall, (Serologist), Mary Simonson (Forensic DNA examiner)- testified regarding "the testing of fluids recovered during a rape examination of Kirsten Edwards. The tests revealed her assailant's DNA profile. That profile eventually made a "high stringency hit" with the DNA profile of the assailant in the Pressly case. Curtis Vance submitted oral swabs to police and during testing the DNA of Curtis Vance was linked to both the rape of Kirsten Edwards, and DNA found at the Pressly scene to a certainty of one in billions."
Lisa Channell (Chief Criminalist for the Crime Lab) testified about "hair evidence, and the efforts to isolate a DNA sample from items found at the crime scene and swabs collected during a rape examination of Anne Pressly."
"Hairs and hair fragments were collected from Anne Pressly's bathrobe, pillowcase, and bed linens. When compared to hairs collected from Curtis Vance, some of the hairs recovered at the scene were "microscopically similar" to Vance's hair."
Defense Cross examination - Lisa Channell "We cannot say this hair came from this person to the exclusion of all others."
Prosecution - Lisa Channell "If I was allowed to take a sample of hair from everyone in the courtroom and microscopically examine it, I could determine whose head it came from."
Lisa Channell testified regarding the processing of evidence collected from the 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by Curtis Vance. "Foam from seat cushions, the results of a floor vaccuuming and fabric swatches from the seats."
Lisa Channell "I was not able to detect blood or semen on any of these items."
Defense - "Would blood or semen linger on such items?
Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson responds "The testing of the items taken from Vance's car was done almost two months after the murder."
Prosecution - "Would soap and water dilute a forensic sample to the point of it being undetectable?
Lisa Channell "Yes, it could.
Prosecution "Would a car-wash vacuum pick up the same evidence as those used by investigators?"
Lisa Channell "Yes, it it would."
Melissa Myhand (Crime Lab's chief forensic DNA examiner) - testified regarding the results of various "tape lifts" taken at the crime scene which revealed a mixture of DNA profiles.
Melissa Myhand "A single hair found on Pressly's bed -- a hair designated "E-4" in forensic reports -- was a match for the DNA profile of Curtis Vance, to a certainty of 1 in 1.5 quadrillion."
Mary Robinette (Arkansas Crime Lab DNA Expert) testified that "Y-STR DNA samples taken from Pressly's bed sheets and from materials in the rape kit taken by police were consistent with the DNA profile of Curtis Vance. Y-STR DNA targets male chromosomes in mixed samples."
Defense Attorney, Katherine Streett "I thought Robinette's testimony was confusing."
Streett tries to cast doubt on the Y-STR DNA results. "Although the Y-STR DNA matched Vance's DNA profile, it did not positively identify Vance. The DNA could have come from any male in Vance's lineage, ranging back for generations."
Katherine Streett "Does any of your testing positively identify Curtis Vance?"
Mary Robinette "no."
Prosecution "But is it consistent with his DNA profile?"
Mary Robinette "Yes."
Defense: Queries Simonson about possible cross-contamination of evidence while it is being reviewed at the Crime Lab.
Simonson "In addition to having their results "peer reviewed" -- double-checked by other DNA investigators -- specialists are required to run control samples during testing to assure that there's no contamination."
Carla Jackson, (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) "I examined Pressly for signs of rape as doctors worked to stabilize her. Anne Pressly's face and scalp bore signs of "massive trauma." "There was a half-centimeter tear to the skin between Pressly's vagina and anus, which can be indicitive that a forcible rape has occurred."
Defense: Queries Carla Jackson over the fact that she couldn't remember if she'd used one swab or two to collect evidence from Anne Pressly's body.
Theresa McBride (St. Vincent Infirmary ER Doctor, taught emergency medicine at UAMS) "I was surprised that Anne Pressly even made it to the hospital. When I first saw her, Anne Pressly was "laying in a pool of blood on the gurney... She did not have a recognizable human face."
"When I tried to put a tube down Pressly's throat to help her breathe, I found that the bones in her face were so shattered that they moved under the skin. Her hair was matted with blood to the point that I first took her to be a redhead. Her nose was crushed beyond recognition. What I first took to be a laceration to her neck was actually her dislocated jaw, which had collapsed down onto her throat."
Defense: "Dr. McBride, you are a Doctor of Osteopathy, not an M.D."
Theresea McBride "The D.O. and the M.D. degrees are recognized by medical licensing bodies as "equivalent degrees."
An audio recording of a Little Rock Police interview between detectives and Curtis Vance (taken in Marianna, Arkansas while detectives were present investigating leads in the Pressly murder) was played to the jurors.
Curtis Vance denies that he was in Little Rock on Oct. 20, 2008, and says "I have never had sex with anyone from Little Rock."