The prosecution in the Jason Coday murder trial rested its case Friday after posing a final question to an expert witness: What are the odds that DNA from the trigger of the murder weapon wrongfully identifies Coday?
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"One in 49 billion," said Jessica Cohen. "This is a rare profile."
Coday, 29, is charged with first-degree murder in the August 2006 shooting of Simone Kim, a 26-year-old contractor working near Fred Meyer department store. He faces a maximum life term in prison.
Cohen, a DNA analyst with the State Police Crime Laboratory, said she ran a battery of tests connecting 13 of 16 possible identifiers from a DNA sample taken from the trigger of a .22-caliber rifle identified as the murder weapon.
Matched against a DNA sample taken from Coday's cheek, the odds that Coday is not the triggerman are minuscule, she testified.
Putting her final answer into context, Cohen said she used a base number that encompasses all racial groups. If odds are applied to DNA in Caucasians alone, the odds become one in 71 billion, she said.
Coday is Caucasian.
Coday's defense begins Monday in Juneau Superior Court.
Defense attorney David Seid was not expected to mount a lengthy argument, and the case was expected to go to the jury early in the week.
Earlier Friday, a ballistics expert testified that three bullets found in Kim's body were fired from the same rifle that held traces of Coday's DNA.
Robert Shem, State Police Crime Lab ballistics expert, said that the tool markings left on the three bullets were consistent with sample rounds he fired through the Ruger in the laboratory.
Medical examiner Stephen Erickson testified that the same three bullets came from Kim's body during an autopsy in Anchorage days after the murder.
Erickson said Kim bled to death after one bullet partially severed a large artery under his collarbone before lodging in his cheek. Two other bullets punctured Kim's lung.
"Blood is just pouring into the chest cavity," Erickson said.
Erickson's testimony contradicted earlier reports that Kim was shot once in the face. All of Kim's wounds were in his back.
"He was not shot in the face," he said.
At that point, Coday leaned to his attorney and said, "Can you ask him if he missed a bullet hole inside the mouth?"
Seid has not said whether Coday will take the stand in his own defense. Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson reminded Coday that he still had to decide.
"It's your decision and I will ask you again," Thompson said.
Coday replied: "I will decide when you ask me."
Greg Skinner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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