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BCA testifies in Fraga case

MARSHALL -- Investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension appeared on the stand during the fifth day of testimony in the murder trial of Josue Robles Fraga in Lyon County District Court on Friday. The Worthington man is accused...

MARSHALL - Investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension appeared on the stand during the fifth day of testimony in the murder trial of Josue Robles Fraga in Lyon County District Court on Friday. The Worthington man is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering his 2-year-old niece in 2008.
This is third trial for Fraga, who was initially convicted in 2009 and again in 2013. His first two convictions were vacated citing the discovery of new evidence in 2009 and juror bias in 2013. Fraga is being tried in Lyon County after the trial was granted a change of venue last fall.
Friday morning, BCA experts explained how they process crime scenes and decide which items to take into evidence for further testing. Articles of clothing and bedding with apparent signs of bodily fluids on them were admitted into the court as exhibits. Additional photographs, diagrams and a video of the crime scene were also shown to the jury.
Kristine Deters, the BCA Crime Scene Team Leader for the Fraga case, testified in the afternoon. Deters walked the jury through the crime scene with the assistance of a BCA video that was taken when the crime scene team first arrived at the Fraga home on the night of March 21, 2008.
The video opens with a shot of the entrance sign to the Sungold Heights Mobile Home Park. It’s dark outside and the BCA crime scene van is seen parked outside of lot 25 where the Fragas resided. The mobile home is surrounded by yellow police crime scene tape.
The video cuts to the kitchen, where there are multiple bags of trash on the floor. In the living room, Christmas lights are still up and children’s artwork is hanging on the walls.
The narrow hallway leading to first the main bedroom, the bathroom and then the children’s room has stacks of storage boxes along its side. The main bedroom where Josue Fraga and his wife slept is seen, followed by the only bathroom in the home. Soaking-wet clothing believed to belong to the victim are seen in the bathtub. A “full bowel movement” was found in the pair of gray children’s sweatpants in the tub, according to Deters.
The far corner of the children’s room contains a wood-framed bunk bed with twin mattresses. With less than a foot between them, a white metal-framed bunk bed with a full-size mattress on the bottom and a twin-size mattress on the top, sits along the other wall. The camera focuses on a stain on the full-size mattress, then on a blood-like substance on a rail on the white metal bunk bed.
Deters explained the BCA team used an ultra violet light and a BCIP (bromo-chloro-indole-phosphate) test that uses cotton swabs and a fluid to identify potential bodily fluids - like blood or semen - on items in the home. Visual indicators had to be used to identify fecal matter on items, Deters said, because there was no conclusive testing method for feces.
Two stained socks found in the main bedroom, a fitted bed sheet with a strong urine odor found in the hallway and the victims clothing from the bathtub were some of the items taken to the BCA lab. Stained carpet cut from the floor, a stained section of a mattress, and pieces of duct tape with hair and tissue stuck to it were also taken for further testing, Deters said.
Deters noted that a BCIP test cannot confirm the presence of bodily fluids; it can only identify the possibility of their presence and is used as a signal that more conclusive testing is needed.
In earlier court proceedings, it was determined that tests of the victim’s oral, vagnial and rectal cavities came back negative for semen. But Deters testified that just because there was a lack of semen on the victim doesn’t mean that she was not sexually assaulted.
Other BCA experts, including forensic scientists who conducted confirmatory testing on evidence from the crime scene, are expected to testify Monday about their findings at the BCA laboratory. The trial is on the Lyon County District Court schedule until Feb. 8.

Related Topics: CRIME
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