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The Peter Wlasiuk Case:
How Much Hate Of One Man Does It Take For A Jury To Ignore The Truth Of The True Experts?
The Burdock Burrs: Julian Shepard (state expert) vs William Crepet (defense expert)
Witnesses described Mrs. Wlasiuk as having burdock burrs attached to her hair, clothing and shoes after her removal from the Lake. There were burdocks attached to the truck as well.
The prosecution emphasized the presence of the burrs in Mrs. Wlasiuk's hair and on her clothing as evidence that she was smothered in a burdock bush on the Wlasiuk's property and then driven into the lake. They based that theory on the presence of a burdock bush with a broken branch on the Wlasiuk's property and the purported absence of burdock bushes at Guilford Lake.
The EMT's who tried reviving Mrs. Wlasiuk didn't notice any burdock burrs on her or her clothing. The state police scuba diver, Jamie Bell, stated that he didn't see any burdock bushes in the water while recovering Mrs. Wlasiuk's body, but he did notice afterward that there was a burdock burr stuck to his diving suit. He was uncertain whether he acquired it during the dive or while relieving himself nearby.
A sheriff's deputy who recovered debris from the lake on April 7, 2002 found a pair of hiking boots, the laces of which were, according to him, laden with burdock burrs. Another deputy claimed to have found burdock burrs on Mrs. Wlasiuk's wet clothing, but he failed to document their presence anywhere. Deputies who were certified scub divers found under the water on April 7, 2002 a jacket belonging to Mrs. Wlasiuk, turned inside-out, and a tool box that appeared to have come from the bed of the truck. The driver's license was in one of the jacket pockets, and there were burdock burrs on the inside of the jacket. Later found were numerous other items in the pockets, among them cash in bills and change, a loose key, a key ring with two keys attached, a cigarrette lighter, a tube of lip balm, and strands of hair. They did not examine the tool box and its contents for the presence of trace evidence.
As did lay witnesses, a plant biologist called by the people, Julian Shepard, claimed that there were no burdock bushes growing at or near where the truck entered Guilford Lake. Judging from a photograph taken of the broken branch taken from a burdock bush on the Wlasiuk's property, he opined that the branch had recently been broken.
Shepard stated that had there been burdock bushes at the shoreline and the burrs been dislodged by the pick up truck, they would've floated for a time and then sunk. He did not know if they would've retained their adhesiveness when wet. In cold water, they would've decomposed very slowly. He also stated that it's possible to differnetiate individual plants in a species using DNA analysis.
The defense plant biology expert Dr. William Crepet, had credentials far superior to Shepard's. Among other things, he was the chairperson of the plant biology department at Cornell University, an Ivy League School, and headed that school's advanced proteomics research center. He'd written several articles published in the Prestigious Journal of Science, had been published in the New York Times Science Times Magazine and had in all published between 80 and 100 peer reviewed works. Shepard was, in contrast, an unpublished associate professor at the State University of New York in Binghamton whose expertise was limited to plant identification. Some of the terminology he used when testifying was not that of a professional botanist.
Dr. Crepet testified that burdock bushes can grow at water's edge and the burrs can float up to 48 hours before sinking. In his opinion, were a burdock bush run over by a vehicle, the burrs would probably come loose from the bush. He also pointed out that burdock burrs retain their adhesiveness even when wet. They can grow intertwined with other plants, remaining strong into early spring and beginning to decay in May. Based on photographic evidence, Dr. Crepet concluded that there could have been burdock bushes growing along the shore of Guilford Lake in 2002.
Dr.Crepet testified that DNA analysis is heavily used in the field of plant biology, first coming into use in 1983, and that it could in some instances yield evidence that a burdock branch came from a particular bush. He disputed the notion that a botanist could've determined how recently the branch found in 2002 had been broken off, explaining that changes in color of the tissue of burdock branches occur over a very long time period.
Take a look at the following video on how plant dna was first used in a murder case. Yet this has NEVER been done in Peter's case.