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DNA expert questioned by lawyers in Dante Taylor murder trial

Composite image shows slain Medford mother Sarah Goode,

Composite image shows slain Medford mother Sarah Goode, 21, and the man accused of killing her, Dante Taylor. Credit: Facebook; SCPD

Both the prosecution and the defense in the trial of a Mastic man accused of raping and killing a Medford woman tried Friday to use a DNA expert to bolster their cases.

Forensic scientist Robert Baumann of the Suffolk Crime Laboratory testified at the first-degree murder trial of Dante Taylor, 21. He is accused of raping and stabbing Sarah Goode, 21, more than 40 times on June 7, 2014, in Medford.

On Thursday, Baumann testified in Riverhead before state Supreme Court Justice John Collins that Taylor’s DNA was found on genital swabs and other material taken from Goode’s body during the autopsy. The probability that it could be anyone unrelated to Taylor is 1 in 53 quintillion, Baumann said.

Baumann also tested the many bloodstains found in and on Goode’s abandoned BMW. They all matched Goode’s DNA, with a probability that it could be someone else of 1 in 120 quintillion, Baumann said.

During questioning Friday by Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson, Baumann said he tested swabs of numerous bloodstains inside Taylor’s Honda. Almost all of them were Taylor’s, but Baumann said one of six small stains on the inside of the driver’s door belonged to Goode.

He said he believed the stain was left while the blood was still wet and fresh.

Among the stains from Goode’s BMW was a palm print left by Taylor in what appeared to be blood. A test of a swab taken from the edge of the stain shortly after the crime matched Goode’s DNA, but Baumann said that in an effort “to develop further evidence,” he tested a swab from a different part of the palm print last September.

This time, the swab tested negative for blood or for DNA.

Defense attorney John Lewis Jr. asked how that could be. “Isn’t DNA a hearty molecule?” he asked.

“I would say so,” Baumann said, adding that he hoped to get a result from that swab.

“You don’t get DNA results from everything you test,” Baumann continued. “I wouldn’t say it’s so unusual.”

Also last September, Baumann said he examined some clothes found in a plastic bag in the same woods where Goode’s half-clothed, partially decomposed body had been found. The clothes included semen-stained underwear. The DNA from it was not Taylor’s, Baumann said.

And despite all the blood found in and on Goode’s car and evidence of a struggle there, he said none of Taylor’s DNA was found in the BMW.

Lewis spent some time questioning Baumann’s qualifications after the scientist said he couldn’t recall how much of a red blood cell consists of hemoglobin.

“I’m sure I knew the answer at one point,” Baumann said.

“Don’t you have to know about the substance you’re testing?” Lewis asked.

“I would agree,” Baumann said, as Lewis shook his head.

Later Friday, a Southwest Airlines customer services supervisor, Cliffye Brown, testified that Taylor flew from MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a one-way ticket on June 21, 2014. By then, Taylor had already been interrogated by police once in the killing.

Det. John Finnegan of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in Florida testified that he helped Suffolk detectives track down Taylor in Vero Beach, Florida, in July 2014, arrested him for them and turned him over to their custody.

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