Ketchikan: Video questioned in Mateu trial

Posted: Sunday, May 05, 2002

A spent bullet casing found in Jos M. "Che" Mateu's bedroom was not evident in some video footage taken at the Mateu residence the day after his father, Jos R. Mateu, was shot to death in January 2000. But the casing was visible in footage shot about 20 minutes later. The video was shown in Ketchikan Superior Court on April 28, the fifth day of Che Mateu's murder trial.

During cross examination of Investigator Ruth Josten of the Alaska State Troopers' Criminal Investigation Bureau, defense attorney Louis Menendez asked whether Josten noticed any bullet casings in Che Mateu's bedroom when she videotaped the residence. Josten said she had not. The earlier video footage played in court showed no bullet casing in the spot where it later was found.

Josten went back through the bedroom with the camera about 20 minutes later, according to the camera timer. Some items on the floor of the room had been moved since the earlier footage, and the later video footage clearly showed the bullet casing lying on a white T-shirt.

"Do you know how that room changed in 20 minutes?" Menendez asked.

"I don't know," Josten said.

Some troopers had been through the residence before she went in with the video camera, said Josten. However, the footage was taken before investigators thoroughly searched the house, she said. She added that she did not know whether troopers went into the bedroom during the 20-minute period.

Much of the day's proceedings involved playing and replaying the video footage. Earlier in the day, District Attorney Steve West asked Sgt. Martin Patterson of the CIB about what Menendez referred to earlier in the trial as a bloody footprint near Jos R. Mateu's body. West showed photos of the area, and Patterson pointed out various parts of the carpet with irregular dark patches. In those photos, the "footprint" looked as if it could have been another dark patch.

Trooper James Truesdale, a diver, testified that he recovered the rifle investigators believe was the murder weapon in the ocean across the highway from the Mateu home.

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