Summit County prosecutors on Wednesday presented forensic evidence they said links a Barberton teen to the 2011 death of his 3-year-old half-sister.
On the second day of testimony in the juvenile court trial of 17-year-old D’Marques Jones, a forensic scientist from the state crime lab, Stacy Violi, told the jury that DNA tests of cuttings from the child’s underwear contained genetic profiles consistent with the teen and the toddler, Makayla Jones.
Violi, who has worked for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation since August 2000, said she tested two sections cut from the underwear.
One section, with no seminal fluid, was consistent with the profiles of both D’Marques and Makayla, she said. The second section, which did contain some seminal fluid, was consistent with the genetic profiles of the teen and another individual whom she could not identify.
Jones, who was 15 years old at the time of Makayla’s death, is charged with one count of murder and one count of rape.
Autopsy results in June 2011 showed the child died from an internal injury and infection. Summit County Deputy Medical Examiner Dorothy Dean specifically explained those findings to the jury Wednesday.
She said the cause of death was “inflammation of the lining of the abdomen” brought on by a perforated colon.
As Dean’s findings were illustrated on a courtroom projection screen, defense attorney Scott Rilley placed his right arm around the shoulders of Jones as the teen sat at the defense table only several feet from the big screen.
Jones lowered his head and looked away, never turning back toward the autopsy diagrams the jury saw.
Rilley had argued in his opening statement that forensic scientists cannot say when the seminal fluid was deposited on the underwear.
And when he cross-examined another forensic expert from the state crime lab, Brittani Howard, Rilley asked her: “You cannot tell the jury how long the genetic sample was on the underwear?”
“No, I cannot say that,” Howard replied.
Rilley said Tuesday that the DNA on the underwear could have come from transfer or touch. The underwear, he said, came from a dirty clothes basket in which other items of dirty clothes were commingled.
Makayla, the teen, his mother, his father and four other siblings were at a Barberton apartment for Father’s Day weekend before the toddler died.
All six children had played outside together with water guns on the Saturday before the holiday, according to testimony.
Wednesday’s final witness, Dr. Richard “Daryl” Steiner, medical director of the child abuse center at Akron Children’s Hospital, where Makayla was pronounced dead, told the jury it was no accident.
“In my opinion, this was not an accidental event,” he said. “but the result of sexual penetration of the rectum.”
Steiner has been director of the child abuse center for 22 years.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.