Gateway murder trial

Robyn Ragsdale of FDLE crime lab

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Ragsdale is one of the lab techs who processed evidence in the trial.

[Serology – testing bodily fluids]

Ragsdale says there are national quality assurance standards for forensic DNA labs. Techs have to take proficiency tests twice a year.

DNA – molecule in the body – encodes everything that makes us who were are. It is common among individuals, but there are differences in every single person (except for identical twins).

They look at 13 different areas of the DNA. It is found in red blood cells, skin cells…etc.

They do STR analysis. They look at 13 areas of DNA and develop a genetic profile, then compare to known samples. (amelogen determines or signifies sex).

(99-percent of our DNA is identical in all humans. DNA techs examine that 1-percent which is unique to each individual)

In a mixture of DNA, sometimes you can tell who are the major or minor contributors. Sometimes you can’t, especially if there are more than two donors.

YSTR testing – they use areas of DNA that are only found on the Y chromosome which is the male chromosome. FDLE does not do YSTR analysis.

They only examine one item of evidence at a time.

Ragsdale performed some of the DNA analysis in this case. 2006-030581, 2006 – 0302419

Exhibits 40 and 42 – (40 – Steven Andrews blood sample) (42 blood sample of Michelle Andrews) These are stain cards, one from each.

Exhibits 68 and 69 – (68 buccal swabs from Fred Cooper) (69 buccal swabs from Kellie Ballew)

Exhibits 39 and 41 (actual blood samples)

These exhibits are used to provide DNA profile standards of each individual in the case.

Exhibit 25 – The cell phone handset. (pictured right)

For full DNA results go to and click on Key evidence explained.

Four samples from areas on the phone: the keys, speaker, earpiece and swab for blood.

When doing STR analysis, the info must reach a certain threshhold, but no items on the phone reached that. This has to do with the quality standards.

Amelogenen – tells male or female

If sample inconclusive – a determination cannot be made. (Sample can’t meet their standards to ensure accuracy of the DNA)

Pants, tshirt, 2 socks – these are Lukasz’s clothes.

Socks – The socks contained DNA of Michelle.

Pants – Both of the knees were positive for blood. One of those matched Michelles DNA, the other one, Michelle couldn’t be excluded.

Shirt- no blood visually detected and therefore was not tested for the presence of blood.

Swabbing of HH – blood present and it was Michelle (major) and Steven’s blood. (sample from the carpet in the master bedroom)

Swabbing of SS – another sample from the carpet in the master bedroom. This was a mixture – Michelle was the major contributor, the other contributor couldn’t be determined.

Exhibit 27 – Jeans from under Michelle’s head. Levis – waist 34 length 32

She tested several areas, which gave the chemical indications of blood. The major profile on most samples matched Michelle Andrews.

The wear areas were also tested for DNA. This includes inside the waist, left pocket, in the groin area, right front pocket and inside the back left leg. All of these areas were a mixture. All included Michelle, three included Steven and Kellie Ballew was also included.

Going over the area and the findings.

Waistband – mixture 3 or more, Michelle, Steve and Kellie. Fred is excluded.

Left pocket – mixture of 2 or more, Michelle, Steven and Kellie. Fred is excluded.

Inside back left leg – mixture of 2 or more, Michelle and Kellie.  No determinations for Fred or Steven

Inside groin area – mixture of two or more. Michelle and Kellie. No determinations for Steven. Fred excluded.

Inside back waistband – mixture of 2 or more. Michelle and Kellie. Fred is excluded. No determination for Steven.

Inside front right pocket – mixture of 3 or more. Michelle, Steven and Kellie. Fred excluded.

Those jeans were not Freds.

Taking a short recess.


Written by Melissa Hudson

October 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

Posted in Day 7

Tagged with , ,

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