Metro-East News

9/8/2010: Lawyers take aim at fingerprint evidence

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Belleville News-Democrat on Sept. 8, 2010

Defense attorneys will attack the bloody fingerprint evidence that prosecutors say connects Darrell “Rell” Lane to the triple stabbings of a west Belleville hairdresser and his two clients.

Lane, now 20, appearing in court with his lawyers Ethan Skaggs, Andrew Liefer and LaToya Berry, filed a motion Tuesday asking St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton to limit testimony regarding bloodstain pattern analysis and asking for clarification regarding testimony by David W. Carter, an Illinois State Police blood pattern expert.

Wharton will hear arguments about the fingerprints and other pretrial motions Oct. 11. Lane’s trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

Lane is accused of three counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of hair stylist Michael Cooney and his two clients, sisters Doris Fischer, 79, and Dorothy Bone, 82. They were found stabbed to death March 2, 2005, in Cooney’s home-based salon at 7813 W. Main St.

The defense has asked prosecutors Jim Piper and Jon Allard to provide them with Carter’s resume, including his education and training, as well as a list of other cases Carter has testified in, plus other details, including video or audio recordings, of any experiments Carter conducted in this case.

In the motion, Liefer cited a National Academy of Science report that found the bloodstain analysis “suffers from the worst deficiencies that impair the reliable determination of scientific truth.”

Lane was charged after Carter connected him to the murders by a bloody fingerprint found in Cooney’s Nissan Pathfinder, which was found in North St. Louis shortly after the murders.

Police have said neighborhood teens had been joy-riding in the car after it was abandoned with the keys in the ignition.

Lane, who has an IQ of 63 and reads at a second-grade level, attended Beaumont High School in St. Louis on the day of the stabbings, according to attendance records. His classes begin at 12:30 p.m. The bodies were found mid-morning.

The man whom former Belleville Police Chief Terry Delaney called the “prime suspect” in the murders, Samuel L. Johnson, 45, was discharged in May from the Illinois Department of Corrections. He served an 11-year prison sentence after he was convicted of attempting to break into Cooney’s home a year before the deaths

Johnson, who was not charged in the stabbings, is listed as a potential witness in Lane’s upcoming trial.