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Forensic scientist: DNA matches murder defendants

Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three

Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three bodies were found by crew responding to a fire. (Aug. 11, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

In the smoking ruin of a Central Islip house, investigators found DNA from five people, a forensic scientist testified Thursday in Suffolk County Court.

Three of those people were dead in a back room -- Louis Calixto Jr., 19; his friend, Mykier Daniels, 28; and her sister Katrice Daniels, 31. The remaining two DNA profiles match the two men on trial for killing those three, Suffolk County Crime Laboratory forensic scientist Daniel Cheswick said in Judge James Hudson's courtroom.

Cheswick said he analyzed bloodstains and charred flesh found in a trail from the room where the three victims were tortured, shot, strangled and stabbed on Aug. 11, 2009, to the house's side door. Those stains were a match to defendants Hasan Vaughan and Thomas Singletary, both 36 and from Central Islip, who are charged with first-degree murder and arson.

Cheswick said the chances of the blood -- found in the dining room, on a rug and runner from that room, on the outside of the side door, on the inside of the screen door and on the front of Mykier Daniel's car in the driveway -- belonging to anyone but Vaughan were 1 in 107 quintillion.

That's 1 billion times the number of people who have ever lived on Earth, according to a 2011 estimate by demographer Carl Haub for the Population Reference Bureau.

"That's pretty rare," Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla observed after hearing the odds.

"Correct," Cheswick replied.

For Singletary, Cheswick said the chances of DNA recovered from blood found on a stool near the side door and burned flesh stuck to a nearby door belonging to anyone but Singletary were 1 in 46.5 quintillion.

As she heard the testimony, Calixto's mother closed her eyes and muttered, "Thank you."

Cheswick said both men's DNA was found mixed together in a bloodstain on the door jamb.

In his opening statement, Biancavilla told jurors that Vaughan and Singletary left their DNA behind as they "bounced off walls and furniture" in their panic to escape the fire they had set. He said Vaughan brought his friend Singletary to the house to seek revenge on the victims for stealing his money and a laptop computer.

Defense attorneys William Keahon and Daniel Russo have questioned the collection and storage of evidence from the crime scene. During cross-examination, forensic scientists have acknowledged that some evidence was stored for months out of the lab's control -- but still sealed -- at a police warehouse.

Biancavilla has described that as a "nonissue" and said the evidence's integrity was not compromised.

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