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Witness: Defendants' DNA not found in room with victims

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

A forensic scientist acknowledged during cross-examination that the room containing the bodies of three murder victims had no DNA in it from either of the two men charged with killing them.

However, Daniel Cheswick of the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory testified later there was also no DNA from anyone else in the fire-scorched room where Louis Calixto Jr., 19; his friend, Mykier Daniels, 28; and her sister Katrice Daniels, 31, were found on Aug. 11, 2009.

Cheswick testified last week that DNA from Hasan Vaughan and Thomas Singletary, both 36 and of Central Islip, was found in blood stains and burned flesh on the walls, floor and doors leading to the exit of the house where the victims were killed. Vaughan and Singletary are on trial before Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson on charges of first-degree murder and arson.

During questioning by Vaughan's attorney, William Keahon, Cheswick said, "His DNA was not detected on any of the samples collected in the . . . bedroom" where the victims were stabbed, strangled and shot.

He added later that all of the DNA found in the house came only from either the victims or the two defendants. He also said the fire and the water to put it out could have destroyed a lot of DNA in the bedroom.

Keahon also questioned Cheswick on why it took two years or more to test some evidence. With the jury out of the courtroom, that prompted Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla to tell Hudson that beer bottles from the scene were tested after unsuccessful plea negotiations with Singletary.

"Mr. Singletary told us that both he and Mr. Vaughan were drinking beer at the crime scene," Biancavilla said. He said he should now be able to let Vaughan's jury know about that. Both defendants have separate juries.

"I totally object," Keahon said. "I am not to suffer because they claim Mr. Singletary said any particular thing."

Keahon then accused Biancavilla of raising the issue to generate news coverage that jurors would read, even though Hudson instructs them at least twice a day not to do so.

"And violate their sacred oath?" Hudson said. "The court does not share your cynicism, Mr. Keahon."

"There will be an article, and I can't counteract it," Keahon said, asking for a mistrial.

Hudson declined to let Biancavilla raise the plea negotiations in the trial and denied the mistrial motion. He asked Biancavilla to raise future concerns at sidebar conferences, so reporters wouldn't hear them.

"OK, but this is a public courtroom for a reason," Biancavilla replied.

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