Incriminating DNA and Fingerprint Evidence Are Verified by Expert Witnesses in Massage Parlor Murder Trial

By Gianna DeGuzman

Woodland – On July 25, 2019, the trial of Rohail Sarwar resumed as the prosecution brought forth several more people to testify. Among them were an expert DNA Analyst and an expert Latent Print Analyst.

Before the expert witnesses testified, the first witness called to the stand was a sales representative for a novelty company. The witness, “LF,” supplied knives to Bob’s Liquor in Woodland, the store where the murder weapon was allegedly purchased.

LF testified that his company stocks only one style of each knife at a store and they do not stock the same knives within the same city. This policy is used to maintain a high level of variation over quantity and to ensure that customers have a unique selection wherever they go. The witness was able to identify the murder weapon as an item supplied by his company that was previously stocked at Bob’s Liquor.

The second witness, the owner of Bob’s Food & Liquor, substantiated this claim by verifying that the same style knife as the murder weapon was sold at his shop. When shown a picture of Rohail Sarwar, the owner was unable to identify the defendant by name, but immediately recognized him as a frequent customer of Bob’s Liquor.

Expert DNA Analyst Lisa Langford tested the pants, sandals, and knife relevant to this murder trial. She conducted a three-step test to verify that the dark reddish-brown stains found on these items were indeed bloodstains. Using vehicle swabs to collect enough cells from both the defendant and the victim, Langford was able to construct a reference DNA profile to compare to the DNA profile assembled from the pants, sandals, and knife. Although there is always some error in scientific testing, Langford concluded that both the victim and defendant’s DNA could not be excluded as contributors.

Expert Latent Print Analyst Barbara Anderson processed the murder weapon and found a visible fingerprint on the handle of the knife. Using an amino black dye, Anderson was able to stain the print to gain a better visual, allowing her to do a comparison of the print on the murder weapon to the registered reference print from Rohail Sarwar. In this line of work, 8 matching characteristics are needed to make an identification; Anderson was able to identify at least 12 distinct matching characteristics, prompting her to declare the identification with “100% certainty.”

As revealed to the jury in prior sessions, the defendant entered into a sexual relationship with his employer’s wife. His boss took the stand to divulge information given to him by Sarwar immediately following the murder.

The defendant phoned his boss on the day of the murder to say that a woman had been murdered near his house. When his boss suggested that she might still be alive, the defendant contested that claim by stating that he doesn’t think so because she was stabbed many times in the stomach and neck area.

The following day, Sarwar brought the situation up yet again, saying that the killer asked the massage parlor victim for sex and she was killed as a consequence of refusing. Sarwar’s boss inquired about why Sarwar had such specific information, to which the defendant replied that the Bob’s Liquor guy told him. This raised suspicion with his boss. As a big fan of True Crime television shows, he knew that detailed information about the crime would not be released to the public that early.

Despite the evidence found against him and his detailed knowledge of the murder, Sarwar continued to refuse to confess, even when interrogated by Woodland Police Department Detective Benjamin Yen. When shown pictures of the bloody pants found in his apartment, the defendant admitted to ownership, but denied knowing how the blood got there. Despite giving no indication that the murderer wasn’t from America, when asked what should happen to the killer, Sarwar replied, “he should get deported.”

The trial is set to reconvene in Department 13 on Friday, July 26, 2019, at 8:30 a.m.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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