A Suffolk police evidence specialist told jurors Tuesday that two palm prints found on a Medford woman’s car matched the hands of the man charged with raping her and stabbing her more than 40 times.
Dante Taylor, 20, of Mastic, is on trial in Riverhead, charged with first-degree murder in the June 7, 2014 slaying of Sarah Goode, 21. He is accused of attacking her in her BMW hours after meeting her at a party. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.
Goode’s BMW, heavily bloodstained inside and out, was found abandoned on Fire Avenue in Medford, about a mile from where she lived and less than a mile from where a family friend found her decomposing, half-naked body on June 12 in the woods.
Karen Oswald, the evidence specialist, gave jurors and state Supreme Court Justice John Collins a detailed explanation on the uses and limitations of fingerprint and palm print evidence before she described the palm prints from the car.
Oswald said one, from a left hand, was on the rear right window — inches from where a clump of Goode’s hair had been hanging, caught between the front right door and the doorjamb.
The other, from a right hand, was on the hood of the car and appeared to be left by a hand coated in blood, Oswald said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson. The thumb in that print was unclear because it covered the BMW logo at the front of the hood, but the rest of the print had clear detail and was outlined in blood, Oswald said.
Both prints matched prints of Taylor’s palms that Oswald took after Taylor’s arrest in July 2014, she said.
The outline on the hood indicated the blood was on Taylor’s hand when he put his hand down, Oswald said. If the blood had been there first before Taylor put his hand on the hood, he likely would have left a smear or a smudge, Oswald said.
Another sign the blood was already on Taylor’s hand was that the print was “tonally reversed.” Usually, Oswald said, fingerprints and palm prints are left by body oils on the raised surfaces of the hand. But when a hand is covered in liquid, the print is left by the liquid trapped in the furrows between the ridges that make up a fingerprint or palm print, she said. The resulting print is tonally reversed, similar to a photographic negative.
Earlier Tuesday, defense attorney John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale suggested during his cross-examination of forensic scientist Thomas Zaveski that the search for evidence near where Goode’s body was found was not vigorous.
Although Zaveski, from the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, knew there had been “copious” amounts of blood in and on Goode’s car, he said he didn’t look for blood on the ground near the body. He told Lewis that heavy brush and rain on June 12 made the search for blood pointless.
During questioning by Albertson, Zaveski said investigators were more focused on finding things belonging to Goode, such as her missing clothing, phone and car keys. Those items were not found.