After two days of police testimony, the attorney for a man charged with raping and killing a Medford woman told a judge Tuesday he still had no idea why her family was searching for her body at the Smith Point Park marina, more than 12 miles from where it was discovered the next day.
Instead of finding Sarah Goode’s body on June 11, 2014, family members found leggings similar to what she was wearing when she disappeared four days earlier. Nearby, police found men’s underwear and socks, but considered them irrelevant to the case.
State Supreme Court Justice John Collins ordered a hearing Monday and Tuesday, after he and lawyers in the case found out about the underwear and socks for the first time on Friday — and learned that police had destroyed them.StoryMurder case missteps examined in hearingStoryLate evidence in murder case irks judgeStoryAttorney: Evidence in murder case not usable
It was the latest misstep in a case that has seen several. Collins has already sanctioned prosecutors for failing to turn over evidence in the first-degree murder case against Dante Taylor, 20, of Mastic.
In court Tuesday in Riverhead, Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson told Collins that police were right to assign little importance to the leggings and men’s clothing found at Smith Point.
When Goode’s body was found in Medford, she had dozens of stab wounds, including two on her legs, Albertson said. Yet forensic testing of the leggings found no blood or DNA, or even any rips.
She reminded Collins that the evidence against Taylor includes cellphone location data showing him moving toward Goode, his semen in her body and his palm prints on her car — one of them left in her blood. She noted that Taylor returned to Mastic — not far from Smith Point — after the attack.
“If we’re going to speculate that the underwear and socks had anything to do with the case, it would be that it was the defendant who put those items there,” Albertson said. “But we shouldn’t speculate at all.”
Defense attorney John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale told Collins that Albertson completely missed the point.
“The issue is, why aren’t we being told the truth?” he said. “We still don’t know why the witnesses were at Smith Point marina.”
He said the defense is entitled to know why the family apparently believed Goode would be found there, and he accused police and prosecutors of “hiding something” about it. He disparaged testimony by officers and detectives that they never asked Goode’s relatives why they were searching that area.
“If they were going to lie [on the witness stand], they should have gotten their stories straight,” Lewis said.
Collins said his earlier ruling about the search, allowing Lewis to explore it at trial, will stand. Jury selection is scheduled to begin May 3.