This is Part Two of the Transcript for the Preliminary Hearing in the case of State of California vs Charles Ray Merritt and is a part of the larger exhibit of documentation here at State vs Merritt.
7 MR. IMES: Detective Joe Steers.
8 THE CLERK: Please raise your right hand.
9 Do you solemnly state the evidence you shall give in this
10 matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
11 truth, so help you God?
14 (Called as a witness on behalf of the People, was sworn and
15 testified as follows:)
17 THE WITNESS: I do.
18 THE CLERK: Thank you.
19 THE BAILIFF: Please be seated. Please state and spell
20 your full name for the record.
21 THE WITNESS: Joseph Steers, J-o-s-e-p-h, S-t, as in Tom,
23 THE COURT: Okay, you may proceed.
24 DIRECT EXAMINATION
25 BY MR. IMES:
26 Q What is your occupation?
27 A I'm a detective for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's
28 Department, currently assigned to the homicide detail.
1 Q And how long have you been employed as a sworn peace
2 officer in the state of California?
3 A Over 15 years.
4 Q After the discovery of the remains in Victorville, at
5 some point did you participate in the investigation in this
7 A Yes, I did.
8 Q Specifically, on August 5th, 2014, did you respond to the
9 McStay residence at 3473 Avocado Lane in Fallbrook, California?
10 A Avocado Vista Lane, yes, sir.
11 Q Avocado Vista. Can you please give us a general
12 description of that residence?
13 A It's a two-story home located on the west side of Avocado
14 Vista Lane. The front door faces east. Through the front door,
15 it opens into a living room, a formal living room. Through the
16 hallway. Then it goes into a family room with an open
17 access-way to the kitchen. There's one downstairs bedroom in
18 the southwest corner with one full-size bath. Then there's
19 stairs up to a loft or an office area. The master bedroom is
20 located in the northwest corner of the residence on the second
21 story. And there's three additional bedrooms and another
22 full-size bath.
23 THE COURT: When did you respond to that location?
24 THE WITNESS: August 4th or 5th. I believe counsel
25 mentioned the exact date.
26 THE COURT: Of 2014?
27 THE WITNESS: Yes.
28 Q (By Mr. Imes) By the time you're able to respond to that
1 residence, is it still owned by the McStay family?
2 A No.
3 Q Did you speak to the new owners?
4 A Yes.
5 Q What conditions about the house had changed, according to
7 A They removed all the property, any leftover property that
8 was in the residence. They changed the entire downstairs
9 flooring. Put in hardwood flooring and changed the baseboards.
10 They painted the walls in the downstairs bathroom and
11 changed the flooring to tile.
12 For the most part, that was it.
13 Q Do you know when they bought the house, or moved into the
15 A Yes, it was roughly a year later, after the McStay family
16 went missing.
17 Q As part of the investigation, did you become familiar
18 with certain evidence that was removed from the gravesite scene?
19 A Yes.
20 Q Did you also become familiar with evidence that had been
21 collected or documented by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's
23 A Yes.
24 Q I'm sorry, that was a "yes"?
25 A Yes.
26 Q At or near the time of the disappearance of the McStay
27 family, did you become familiar with evidence of painting that
28 was going on in the house?
1 A Yes.
2 Q Can you describe what you became familiar with?
3 A The McStay family, they were painting the residence.
4 Initially they started repainting all the walls in a tan or
5 brown-type color. And then they were finishing with painting
6 the cupboards in the kitchen.
7 Q What color?
8 A An off-white.
9 Q Were you familiar with paint supplies that were located
10 within the house at the time they were -- they had disappeared?
11 A Yes.
12 Q What were some of those supplies?
13 A There was blue painter's tape affixed to some of the
14 portions of the wall in the kitchen. There was an empty roll or
15 cardboard roll consistent with the painter's tape. There was a
16 paint can next to the kitchen island, with a paint tray. That
17 was essentially it.
18 Q In comparison to items that were found in or near the
19 graves, was there any indication of paint-type supplies or
20 painting activities consistent in those graves?
21 A Yes.
22 Q What?
23 A There was blue painter's tape in the graves, in a white
24 shop towel. There was paint on Summer McStay's brassiere. And
25 paint on the sledgehammer.
26 Q Was there something unique about the paint on the
28 A Yes, it was horizontal across the brassiere, consistent
1 with either Summer McStay painting sideways, lying sideways, or
2 incapacitated, or a drip falling on her brassiere.
3 Q So had she been wearing the brassiere it would have gone
4 from left to right or right to left across the body, is what
5 you're referring to as horizontal?
6 A Correct.
7 Q You indicated that there was paint on the sledgehammer;
8 Please describe that.
9 A There was a small paint transfer on the sledgehammer near
10 the black sticker or label for the sledgehammer handle, that was
11 off-white in color.
12 Q Was there paint on any of the other clothing that was
13 found, other than the brassiere?
14 A There was a small amount of paint on Summer McStay's
16 Q And you're familiar with that, those paint samples being
17 compared with paint in the house?
18 A Yes.
19 Q And what are you familiar with?
20 A The paint samples for the sledgehammer matched the paint
21 samples from Summer McStay's brassiere.
22 MR. TERRELL: Objection. Foundation, your Honor, as to
23 what was --
24 THE COURT: Sustained.
25 MR. TERRELL: Thank you.
26 Q (By Mr. Imes) Were you also looking at photographs taken
27 from the McStay home?
28 A Yes.
1 Q Of, like, the family members?
2 A Yes.
3 Q Specifically, do you recall seeing any photographs that
4 showed the towel racks within the various rooms of the house?
5 A Yes.
6 Q And, specifically, what do you recall looking at?
7 A I looked at the towel racks in all bathrooms, the
8 photographs within the home, and did not see any towels present
9 that would typically be hung on a towel rack in a bathroom.
10 I did notice there was a small white towel next to the
11 commode in the master bathroom depicted in one photograph. And
12 then there were white shop towels in a roll depicted in a
13 photograph in the garage.
14 Q You just indicated a small towel. Was it a towel or a
15 bath mat?
16 A It was a towel sitting on top of a trash can, I believe.
17 Q Did you also view photographs of Joseph, Jr., with a
19 A Yes.
20 Q And can you describe what you observed?
21 A The photograph depicting Joseph, Jr., was when he was
22 younger, in fact maybe a year or two prior to the death, wrapped
23 in a -- it's a children's robe/towel, with a picture of a, or
24 the head of the towel depicts a cat with a nose, black eyes and
26 Q Speaking of hooks in the bathroom, did you notice
27 anything significant about a couple of the hooks in the
1 A Yes.
2 Q What was that?
3 A There were two hooks for robes. But only one terry cloth
4 robe on it.
5 Q Were you also familiar with photographs of the futon in
6 the residence?
7 A Yes.
8 MR. TERRELL: I'm going to object to vague as to time
9 that we're speaking about.
10 THE COURT: Overruled.
11 You can answer.
12 Q (By Mr. Imes) Were you familiar with photographs of the
14 A Yes.
15 Q Were you also at -- well, were you familiar with
16 photographs that appear to have been taken prior to their
18 A Yes.
19 Q And did you have a way to judge the timing of those
21 A Yes.
22 Q And what was that?
23 A The photographs were pictures of the children wearing
24 Santa Clause hats, and appeared to be around Christmastime on
25 the futon.
26 Q And then did you also make yourself familiar with the
27 condition of the futon that was documented at the time of the
1 A Yes.
2 Q Did you find all of the stuff that we've just talked
3 about being from the house, did you find any evidence from the
4 graves or gravesites that was consistent to those items we've
5 just talked about?
6 A Yes.
7 Q Can you please itemize those for us?
8 A In the grave itself there was like a black nose, eyes and
9 a whisker and some padding consistent with the bathrobe that was
10 depicted in the picture with Joseph, Jr.
11 In the gravesite there was a black backpack containing
12 what was a paintbrush and looked like, maybe, like a small pick
13 or hand garden tool. These items were depicted in a photograph
14 of Gianni wearing a similar black backpack and Joseph, Jr.,
15 posing, holding the same type paintbrush.
16 Joseph McStay was wrapped in a tannish woven blanket or
17 article of cloth that had seams on it, which appeared to be
18 consistent with the cover from the futon that was missing at the
19 time they went missing, the family went missing.
20 There was a blue painter's tape that was in the white
21 shop towel, in the grave. That white shop towel was consistent
22 with the roll of shop towels that was found in the garage.
23 There was also another white towel which had flower
24 imprints on it and was consistent with what would be a typical
25 bath towel that would be found in a house. However, there was
26 no other in towels found in the McStay house. There was nothing
27 to compare it to. They were all gone.
28 Q Did you find any white terry-type material consistent
1 with a bath mat?
2 A Yeah, there was some small patches of white terry cloth
3 material consistent with either a bath mat, because photographs
4 depicting the McStay house showed that there was a toilet cover,
5 the typical kind that's sold in, like, sets, where you have a
6 floor mat and another rug in front of a shower. However the
7 floor mat and the rug for the shower was gone, and only the
8 cover for the toilet seat was there. And also it would be
9 consistent with the terry cloth that was depicted as missing off
10 of one of the hooks.
11 Q In the excavation of the gravesites, did you notice
12 whether any type of footwear, shoes or sandals, anything of such
13 were found in the excavation process?
14 A None were found.
15 Q Are you aware of any indication of any type of clothing
16 consistent with a shirt that was found in the grave with Summer?
17 A No.
18 Q I have nothing further for Detective Steers.
19 THE COURT: Cross.
20 MR. TERRELL: I have no questions for the detective.
21 THE COURT: Okay.
22 Any objection to Detective Steers being excused?
23 MR. TERRELL: Nope.
24 MR. IMES: He can be excused.
25 THE COURT: Okay. Thank you, sir, for your attendance,
26 and you are excused.
27 And you can call your next witness.
28 MR. DAUGHERTY: Your Honor, people call Detective Troy
1 DuGal to the stand.
2 THE CLERK: Please raise your right hand.
3 Do you solemnly state the evidence you shall give in this
4 matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
5 truth, so help you God?
8 (Called as a witness on behalf of the People, was sworn and
9 testified as follows:)
11 THE WITNESS: I do.
12 THE CLERK: Thank you. You may be seated.
13 THE BAILIFF: Please state and spell your full name for
14 the record.
15 THE WITNESS: My first name is Troy, T-r-o-y, my last
16 name is DuGal, D-u, capital G, a-l.
17 THE COURT: Okay, you may proceed.
18 MR. DAUGHERTY: Thank you, your Honor.
19 DIRECT EXAMINATION
20 BY MR. DAUGHERTY:
21 Q Sir, what is your current occupation and assignment?
22 A I'm a homicide detective for the San Bernardino Sheriff's
24 Q And how long have you been a sworn peace officer?
25 A 19 years.
26 Q Turning your attention back to February of 2010, and in
27 particular February 15th, 2010, were you assigned to what was
28 initially a missing persons investigation regarding the McStay
2 A I was.
3 Q And could you tell us how that came about?
4 A I was at home. I received a call from my supervisor. He
5 told me there was a patrol deputy at a residence in Fallbrook.
6 The patrol deputy had taken an initial report of a missing
7 persons, or a missing family.
8 The patrol deputy came to an immediate evaluation that
9 the family may have been gone for longer than ten days. Per our
10 protocol, Sheriff's Department, after a ten-day period homicide
11 takes the investigation.
12 So the patrol deputy alertly called my supervisor,
13 advised him. And he dispatched the homicide team.
14 Q Okay. When you were dispatched to -- did you go to a
15 location at 3473 Avocado Vista Lane in the city of Fallbrook?
16 A Yes.
17 Q That's San Diego County, I take it?
18 A Yes.
19 Q When you were there, what did you do, initially, that
21 A I arrived at the scene. I talked to that deputy. I
22 asked him what he had done. And he told me he had been in the
23 house. He had cleared the house. I asked him for his
24 observations. He stopped and he said, "I gotta tell you
25 something. I cleared the house but I forgot to clear the
26 garage." I said, "No problem, I'll go in and we'll clear the
27 house together." And so I went in with him and we cleared the
28 house together. And I made initial observations then.
1 Q And what were your initial observations? You're speaking
2 of inside the residence?
3 A Yes.
4 Q What were your initial observations?
5 A My -- obviously, in my job, I look for things. I'm
6 looking for the welfare of the family and for any persons that
7 might have been injured. But I'm also looking for signs of
8 violence, evidence, anything that I can just peruse walking
9 through the house, and what the condition of the house was.
10 Q Okay. And what was the condition of the house?
11 A The house was, it appeared to be that somebody was
12 restoring the house or, you know, renovating the house.
13 Q Why do you say that?
14 A There was a lack of furniture. There was fresh paint on
15 the wall. There was still the tape for painting up on the
16 walls, the trim. A paint can on the floor.
17 Q You indicated that the paint was fresh. Did it still
18 have a fresh smell?
19 A It did have a fresh smell.
20 Q You indicated there was painter's tape, I believe;
21 Did you say that?
22 A Yes.
23 Q And what else did you observe inside the residence?
24 A I saw that there was food left out. Some of the food
25 had -- some of the vegetables had rotted, but there was a
26 popcorn bag that was open, a couple of bowls of popcorn that
27 were sitting on a futon that was missing a cover, in the living
28 room area.
1 Upstairs, the master bedroom had what appeared to be a
2 large bed where I would assume the adults would have slept. But
3 next to that was smaller beds. It looked like maybe children
4 slept in those beds.
5 Q Now, did you, after you made your initial observations,
6 was there any family members of the McStay family at the scene
7 when you arrived?
8 A I believe Michael McStay was there. I ended up talking
9 to Michael McStay later in the day. But I don't know -- I don't
10 remember him being there when I arrived. He may have been.
11 Q But later that same day you spoke to Mike McStay?
12 A Yes.
13 Q Was he the one that reported the McStay family missing?
14 A Yes.
15 Q On February 15th?
16 A Yes.
17 Q Did you -- what were you able to gather -- well, we've
18 heard testimony previously that Joseph had a water feature
20 Was that your understanding, based on your investigation?
21 A Yes, from Michael McStay and the entire investigation,
22 Earth Inspired Products was owned by Joseph McStay.
23 Q At some point did you learn the name of, a person by the
24 name of Charles Merritt?
25 A I did.
26 Q And what was your understanding, what was your
27 investigation regarding Charles Merritt's role in the company,
28 in Earth Inspired Products?
1 A From the investigation I learned that Charles Merritt was
2 hired by Joseph McStay to assist him in manufacturing custom
3 water features. So, if a customer called Earth Inspired
4 Products and they wanted a water feature that wasn't already
5 pre-built, that Joseph would do the plans for the water feature
6 and then relay that to Charles Merritt. And Charles Merritt
7 would be active in the fabrication of that water display.
8 Q Did you, on February 17th, two days after the initial
9 missing person's report, interview Charles Merritt?
10 A I did.
11 Q Do you see that person here in court today?
12 A Yes.
13 Q Could you tell us where he's sitting and what he's
15 A He is at the defense table. He's wearing, it appears to
16 be a gray button-down shirt and --
17 MR. DAUGHERTY: Your Honor --
18 I'm sorry.
19 THE WITNESS: Go ahead. You're fine.
20 MR. DAUGHERTY: Your Honor, may the record reflect the
21 witness has identified the defendant?
22 THE COURT: The record will so reflect.
23 MR. DAUGHERTY: Thank you.
24 Q (By Mr. Daugherty) Where did you speak to the defendant?
25 A It was in an apartment complex. And inside that
26 apartment complex was a large community room. And we did the
27 interview in, essentially, a small conference room within the
28 community room of the apartment complex.
1 Q You said "we." Was there someone with you?
2 A Yes.
3 Q Who?
4 A Detective Susan Fisk. She was my partner then.
5 Q Was that location on Church Street, an apartment complex
6 on Church Street in Rancho Cucamonga?
7 A It was.
8 Q Now, is it fair to say you spoke to the defendant several
9 times during the course of your investigation?
10 A Several times.
11 Q Okay. When you called him, did you call him on a
12 particular number?
13 A Yes.
14 Q Is that the number you had always reached the defendant
15 at during the course of your investigation?
16 A For a period of at least a year. Or, right around a year
17 his number changed. But, yes, for the first year.
18 Q And was that (909) 374-0102?
19 A Yes, it was.
20 Q When you and Detective Fisk -- let me back up.
21 Did you learn anything initially in the missing persons
22 investigation on the 15th about the vehicles owned by the McStay
24 A I did.
25 Q What did you learn?
26 A So, going back to the deputy sheriff who initially
27 responded to the house, I spoke with him. And after we came out
28 of the house, I said, "Do me a favor and run all vehicles
1 registered to the McStay family so I can account for their
2 vehicles." He came back and he told me there was a green Dodge
3 Ram pickup truck that was in the driveway. He said, "That's
4 registered to them." And he said, "I have another piece of
5 information. They have a white -- "or he actually said " -- an
6 Isuzu Trooper." He didn't tell me what color. And he said,
7 "It's currently in an impound yard in San Diego."
8 Q Did you learn when that Isuzu Trooper was towed into the
9 impound yard?
10 A Later that day, or the next day, I learned it was
11 impounded on February 8th of 2010.
12 Q Now, back to the interview that you conducted at the
13 defendant's. It was your understanding that was the defendant's
14 residence in Rancho Cucamonga?
15 A The McStay residence?
16 Q No, the defendant's residence.
17 A Oh, you're talking about his residence in Rancho
19 Q Yeah. Sorry, I skipped around.
20 A Yeah, he lived in that apartment complex.
21 Q When you interviewed the defendant, did either you or
22 Detective Fisk or both of you notice anything about the
23 defendant's pattern of speech when he talked about Joseph?
24 A Yes.
25 Q What did you note?
26 A There were several times -- in a homicide interview
27 whether we're just in a missing persons or a homicide interview,
28 when we're talking to a person we're listening to what they're
1 telling us and trying to make sense of everything.
2 There were several times that Charles Merritt used the
3 past tense when he referred to Joseph or Summer McStay. There
4 were also times when he used present tense, but he frequently
5 would use past tense.
6 Q In fact, didn't he say there on the 17th that Joseph was
7 one of his best friends?
8 A Yes.
9 Q Didn't he say that Joseph definitely loved Summer?
10 A Yes.
11 Q And didn't he say she was a verbal person -- was a verbal
13 A Yes.
14 Q And she didn't believe in corporal punishment?
15 A Yes.
16 Q Did the defendant --
17 Well, let me ask you this. Did at the time Detective
18 Fisk confront the defendant?
19 A She did.
20 Q What did she say?
21 A She told him straight out, "There's been many times in
22 our interview that you've used past tense."
23 And she described it to him. And she challenged him.
24 And I don't remember his specific reply to that challenge.
25 Q Did he indicate he didn't know why he spoke in the past
27 A He was confused. He just essentially disregarded it.
28 I remember the aftermath. And he just disregarded it.
1 Q Did he tell you about his business relationship with
2 Joseph McStay, Sr.?
3 A Yes.
4 Q What did he tell you?
5 A It was confusing to me. In the initial interview he said
6 he had his own business. And I believe he called it "I Design,"
7 or something similar to that. And that he essentially was a
8 subcontractor for Earth Inspired Products. Joseph reached out
9 to him. So, he didn't call him a business partner. He
10 essentially said Joseph was hiring him to do the fountain
12 Q Did he tell you when he last saw Joseph McStay in person?
13 A He did.
14 Q What did he tell you?
15 A February 4th, 2010, around lunchtime, at a Chick-fil-A in
16 Rancho Cucamonga.
17 Q Did he tell you what the purpose of that meeting was at
18 the Chick-fil-A in Rancho Cucamonga?
19 A It was strictly business. They were going to discuss
20 present and future projects. And Chase was there to receive a
21 check. Or checks.
22 Q Did he tell you that he received, physically received the
24 A Yes.
25 Q And that was the purpose of the meeting?
26 A Yes. Well, that's one of the purposes. It's business
27 related, but, yes.
28 Q And was one of the checks that he said he received for a
1 person by the name of Dave -- or a company by the name of Dave?
2 A I remember the name Dave related to a company, Metro
3 Sheet Metal, and it's in the -- I don't know if it was in Rancho
4 Cucamonga, but it's out here, not in San Diego.
5 Q Now, you have used several times the word "Chase," or I
6 may have even used it.
7 Does the defendant go by "Chase"?
8 A Yes, and I'm sorry if I have. That's what he had me
9 refer to him as every time I talked to him.
10 Q Did -- was the defendant, did he give you a time frame as
11 to when this meeting occurred on February 4th?
12 A He did. I don't -- I don't remember the specific hour or
13 minutes, but it was essentially a lunch meeting. And then
14 Joseph left Chick-fil-A and returned home.
15 Q Did the defendant describe the vehicles that the McStays
17 A He did.
18 Q What did he tell you?
19 A He said Summer traditionally drove a green pickup truck,
20 and then he said Joseph usually drives the small white car,
21 which was confusing to me in the interview. And I asked him,
22 "Are you talking about a white Isuzu Trooper?" And he said yes,
23 but he continued to say, "The small white car."
24 Q Did -- during the course of that interview, did Detective
25 Fisk ask the defendant at least twice if he had ever driven the
26 Isuzu Trooper?
27 A Yes.
28 Q And what -- what was the defendant's response?
1 A He said he had not.
2 Q Did he tell you and Detective Fisk whether he had been in
3 the Trooper?
4 A Yes.
5 Q What did he tell you?
6 A He had been in it on at least one occasion or more. And
7 the last time he could immediately recall being in the Isuzu
8 Trooper was weeks before our interview on February 17th of 2010,
9 when he went to play paintball with Joseph.
10 Q But he indicated that he was the front passenger during
11 that time?
12 A Yes.
13 Q I'm sorry?
14 A Yes.
15 Q Did he describe what kind of vehicle he drove at the
17 A He did.
18 Q What did he describe?
19 A It was a -- it was a pickup truck. I think it was a
20 Chevrolet pickup truck.
21 Q Chevy 3500?
22 A Yes.
23 Q 1999 Chevy 3500?
24 A That sounds correct.
25 Q Did he tell you during that interview, again this is on
26 February 17th, that if Joseph didn't come back, he wouldn't be
27 able to pay his rent at the end of the month?
28 A He did.
1 Q And at the end of the interview, at some point during
2 that interview, did you obtain a buccal swab from the defendant?
3 A I did.
4 Q And could you describe for us what that is and what you
5 did in this case?
6 A Essentially, because it was a missing person's case and I
7 had knowledge that Charles Merritt was going to be some type of
8 business associate and that he had been in the McStay vehicle,
9 which I knew I needed to process, I wanted to collect his DNA
10 for one of two purposes.
11 Well, it's evidence. But it's evidence of a potential
12 crime in the future, or it's exclusionary evidence, to extract
13 his DNA when we find it inside the vehicle. And I asked him for
14 his consent to submit to that. And he did.
15 Q Okay. What is that, like a Q-tip?
16 A It's just Q-tips. It's essentially sterile Q-tips that
17 are sealed. They come in a sealed package and are used to
18 administer the collection of the DNA swab.
19 And all a person will do is take a Q-tip, remove a
20 plastic container from the cotton portion, put it in between
21 their cheek and gum, rotate it. It collects, hopefully, some of
22 skin cells and saliva. And then they will slide up the plastic
23 sealing portion of it. It seals the cotton swab at the end.
24 And then I have the person drop it into a package or a
25 folder. And then I seal it and sign it right there.
26 Q And you put the person's name and identifying information
27 on it?
28 A Yes.
1 Q In this case it was "Charles Merritt"?
2 A Yes.
3 Q Were you present, or did you participate in the
4 processing of the Isuzu Trooper?
5 A I believe it was the next day. The answer is, yes,
7 Q And could you describe if --
8 Well who did that processing?
9 A That was myself and primarily forensic evidence tech
10 Denyc Williams. She, kind of in simple terms, is the crime
11 scene investigator, C.S.I. gal.
12 Q That's spelled D-e-n-y-s (sic)?
13 A Yes.
14 Q So, she actually processed the vehicle, and you observed
15 her do the processing;
16 Is that fair to say?
17 A The way it goes is the homicide detective brings in the
18 search warrant. And we had already -- I went to take the Isuzu
19 Trooper from the impound yard. We did not open it at the
20 impound yard.
21 We had it put on a flatbed truck. It's brought to the
22 crime lab and put into a secured garage.
23 Then, when I served the search warrant on the Isuzu
24 Trooper, we entered the Isuzu Trooper. It was locked. We
25 forced entry into the Isuzu Trooper. And then, at my direction,
26 we processed the Trooper. And she collects all the physical
27 evidence, DNA, fingerprints, photographs, whatever we find.
28 Q During any of your contacts with the defendant, do you
1 recall him telling you that it took exactly one hour for him to
2 drive from his residence to the McCarger residence?
3 A Yes.
4 MR. DAUGHERTY: I have no further questions at this time.
5 THE COURT: Cross.
6 MR. TERRELL: We have no questions, your Honor.
7 THE COURT: Okay. Any objection to Detective DuGal being
9 MR. TERRELL: No.
10 MR. DAUGHERTY: No, your Honor.
11 THE COURT: Okay. Thank you, sir, for your attendance,
12 and you are excused.
13 THE WITNESS: Thank you, your Honor.
14 THE COURT: And you can call your next witness.
15 MR. DAUGHERTY: Thank you, your Honor. I need to recall
16 Detective Bachman.
17 THE BAILIFF: You can go ahead and be seated.
18 THE COURT: And you're reminded you're still under oath.
19 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
20 THE COURT: You may proceed.
21 MR. DAUGHERTY: Thank you, your Honor.
24 (Previously called as a witness on behalf of the People, having
25 been sworn, testified further as follows:).
26 DIRECT EXAMINATION (Recalled)
27 BY MR. DAUGHERTY:
28 Q Detective Bachman, you've been present for the testimony
1 of Detective DuGal?
2 A I was.
3 Q Did you, yourself, interview Denyc Williams, that's
4 D-e-n-y-c, Williams?
5 A Yes, sir.
6 Q And did she describe for you what her job title was back
7 in February of 2010?
8 A Yeah, at the time she was, they say a crime scene
9 specialist for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, like
10 Detective DuGal described.
11 She responded out to crime scenes and assisted with
12 processing of evidence, collecting evidence, and documenting
13 crime scenes.
14 Q Did she tell you that she processed the McStays' Isuzu
15 Trooper, California license 3TAE045?
16 A She did.
17 Q And did she tell you whether or not she swabbed the
18 Trooper for potential DNA?
19 A She did.
20 Q What did she tell you?
21 A She told me that she swabbed various areas of the Isuzu
22 Trooper, all of which would be documented in her report and on
23 her evidence check log.
24 Q Did she tell you, specifically, that she swabbed the
25 steering wheel of the Isuzu Trooper?
26 A She did.
27 Q Did she also tell you that she swabbed the gearshift?
28 A She did.
1 Q Was that -- did you yourself ever view the Trooper?
2 A Yes, but not the -- I didn't process it, no. But I have
3 looked at the Isuzu Trooper before.
4 Q Is it a standard transmission?
5 A I believe that actually has an automatic transmission, if
6 I remember. But I'm not a hundred percent for sure on that.
7 Q But there is a gearshift?
8 A There is.
9 Q She swabbed that for DNA?
10 A She did.
11 Q She also swabbed the four-wheel-drive lever?
12 A Yes, sir.
13 Q And the radio controls and heater and air-conditioning
15 A Yes, sir.
16 Q Are you familiar with where that Trooper was towed from?
17 A The Isuzu Trooper was towed from a lot in San Ysidro back
18 to the San Diego County Sheriff's crime lab.
19 Q And where is San Ysidro?
20 A San Ysidro is just on the state side of the Mexican
21 border, on the United States side of the Mexican border.
22 Q After she took the swabs, these various swabs, what did
23 she do with the swabs? I take it she used cotton?
24 A Yes, the way she described the process for this is they
25 take sterile cotton swabs that have a plastic cover that will go
26 over it.
27 They slide the plastic cover out. They'll take
28 sterilized water, they'll moisten the Q-tip or the swab, and
1 they'll collect the area of evidence, or they'll swab the area
2 of evidence with the now moistened cotton swab.
3 After they collect the area, they'll cover it with the
4 plastic cover, place it into evidence envelopes where they'll
5 secure them. And then they'll be sent to their crime lab, if
6 they need, or sent to evidence.
7 Q And those are sealed?
8 A They are.
9 Q Does it identify where those various swabs are taken
11 A She documents where the evidence is collected from. Or
12 whoever collects the evidence documents it.
13 Q And she did that in this case?
14 A She did.
15 Q After the McStay family was located in San Bernardino
16 County, did San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department obtain
17 that evidence?
18 A We did.
19 Q And describe how that took place.
20 A So, when the San Diego Sheriff's Department had the
21 investigation, eventually the case was turned over to the FBI.
22 At that point the McStay vehicle and all the evidence
23 obtained during the investigation done by San Diego Sheriff's
24 Department was turned over to the FBI.
25 When we recovered the remains of the McStay family, we
26 assumed the criminal investigation and we met with members of
27 the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect all the evidence
28 for processing.
1 Q And did that include, in this case, the buccal swab
2 collected from the defendant by Detective DuGal?
3 A It did.
4 Q And did it also, does that also include the swabs from
5 the steering wheel, the heater and AC control, the radio control
6 and the gearshift in the Isuzu Trooper?
7 A Yes, sir.
8 Q Did you speak to someone by the name of Don Jones?
9 A I did.
10 Q Who is Don Jones?
11 A Don Jones is a retired criminalist. He was employed by
12 the County of San Bernardino as a criminalist for over 20 years.
13 During the course of his assignment he was assigned to process
14 DNA at our Sheriff's Department crime lab.
15 Q Did you ask him in this case if he -- or did he do the
16 DNA analysis in this case?
17 A He did. Mr. Jones was actually assigned specifically to
18 this case. So, any evidence we needed processed went directly
19 to Jones for processing.
20 Q Did he receive the buccal swab of the defendant that was
21 collected by Detective DuGal?
22 A He did.
23 Q What did he do with that buccal swab?
24 A So, from the swabs that he collected he took the buccal
25 swab that DuGal collected from Merritt and extracted DNA from
26 that. And he basically built a DNA profile off of the sample
27 that was on the swab.
28 Q Did he, did he obtain, did he do the same type of
1 analysis with the swabs from the steering wheel of the Isuzu
3 A He did. He collected that and extracted DNA from there,
4 from the swabs that Miss Williams collected, and built DNA
5 profiles off of the swabs.
6 Q Was he able to get a profile from the swabs that were
7 taken by Miss Williams?
8 A Yes, he actually -- on those, there were multiple
9 profiles on there.
10 Q Did he compare the profile of the defendant and his
11 buccal swab that he obtained from the defendant's buccal swab
12 with the --
13 Let's start with the profile obtained from the steering
14 wheel of the Isuzu Trooper.
15 A Yes.
16 Q What did he tell you his results were?
17 A That it was -- the way he described it, there was a, a
18 major contributor. He extracted Joseph's profile from that.
19 There was a minor contributor. And then was a trace
20 contributor. He said he extracted Summer's DNA profile as the
21 trace contributor. And that left Merritt as the minor
22 contributor to the sample obtained by Williams from the steering
24 Q Did he tell you it was a match, or --
25 A I'm sorry. He said it was a match for Charles Merritt's
26 DNA in the profile.
27 Q As a trace contributor?
28 A As a minor contributor. And then, on a second set, he
1 obtained a trace contributor.
2 Q Did he do the same for the swab taken from the gearshift?
3 A Yes.
4 Q And what was the result of that?
5 A The result of that was that it was a trace contributor
6 for a match for Charles Merritt.
7 Q Did he also do the same analysis with regard to the
8 heater and air-conditioning controls?
9 A Yeah, it was -- it was a match. It was, I believe it was
10 a collective swab.
11 Q Oh, it was all one swab?
12 A It was a collective swab.
13 Q Okay, okay. And so the results you previously described,
14 that Mr. Jones described to you, are the same for that, all the
16 A Yes, sir.
17 Q Okay. During Detective DuGal's testimony, he indicated
18 the defendant's cell phone number at the time, (909) 374-0102.
19 During the course of your investigation were you able to obtain
20 phone records for that number?
21 A I did.
22 Q And who was the carrier for that?
23 A That was AT&T Wireless.
24 Q And describe how you got those records.
25 A Well, I authored a search warrant for the defendant's
26 phone records through AT&T. The search warrant was signed and
27 it was sent over to AT&T. We believe -- I believe on that one
28 we faxed it to AT&T. And after a short time we received the
1 record back for the requested time period.
2 Q And what was the requested time period?
3 A I believe it was from, if I remember correctly it was
4 from January of 2010 through -- actually, I take it back. I
5 think it was from March of 2009 through the end of March of
7 Q Did you speak to anybody at AT&T regarding those records?
8 A I did.
9 Q Who did you speak to?
10 A Yolanda Howard.
11 Q And did Miss Howard tell you that she provided
12 San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, pursuant to that
13 warrant, with the full and complete records that were requested?
14 A She did.
15 Q Did she tell you that the entries in those records were
16 kept in the ordinary course of AT&T's business?
17 A She did.
18 Q Did she tell you whether or not the entries made on those
19 records were at or near the time of the calls or events on the
21 A She indicated they were.
22 Q And who was the owner of the account?
23 A The account was registered to Catherine Jarvis.
24 Q And who is Katherine Jarvis?
25 A Katherine Jarvis is a girlfriend and child's mother of
26 Chase Merritt. They have three children in common.
27 Q Did you interview her?
28 A I did.
1 Q Did she confirm that that number was the defendant's? Or
2 could she recall if that number was the defendant's?
3 A She didn't recall specifically if it was the number. But
4 she knew at the time they had three numbers assigned to the
5 account. One was hers. The second was the defendant's. And
6 the third belonged to their eldest daughter.
7 Q Did you, during the course of your investigation, obtain
8 Joseph McStay Sr.'s, phone number?
9 A I did.
10 Q And was that (949) 295-7451?
11 A Yes, sir.
12 Q Did you also obtain his records?
13 A I did.
14 Q You interviewed a lot of people, conducted a long
15 investigation in this case, right?
16 A That's correct, sir.
17 Q When was the last time anybody heard from the McStay
19 A February 4th, 2010.
20 MR. DAUGHERTY: I'm going to recall Detective Bachman
21 later, but that's all I have for now.
22 THE COURT: Okay. Cross.
23 CROSS EXAMINATION
24 BY MR. TERRELL:
25 Q Detective Bachman, could you please tell me how long was
26 the FBI the lead agency in the investigation?
27 A I believe San Diego held the investigation until roughly
28 2011. And then they assumed it between then and when we
1 recovered the McStays' remains in November 2013.
2 Q And during that time did they take custody of the vehicle
3 we've described and various other evidence?
4 A They did.
5 Q And you yourself, you've spoken to the FBI agents that
6 were in charge of that investigation;
7 Is that correct?
8 MR. DAUGHERTY: I'm going to object as to relevance.
9 THE COURT: Overruled. He can answer.
10 THE WITNESS: I have not, no, sir.
11 Q (By Mr. Terrell) And as the lead investigator, have you
12 seen, is there from the FBI, for example, on DNA swabs and all
13 that material, was there a chain of custody given back to San
15 A There was. And when I spoke to Don Jones, when he
16 received them the swabs were still sealed and appeared
18 Q And when you picked up the investigation from the FBI,
19 did you receive any of their reports and findings?
20 MR. IMES: Objection. Goes to discovery.
21 THE COURT: Overruled. He can answer.
22 THE WITNESS: To my knowledge, no, there was no reports
23 turned over.
24 MR. TERRELL: Thank you.
25 I have no other questions, your Honor.
26 THE COURT: Anything else?
27 MR. DAUGHERTY: I do, if I may.
28 REDIRECT EXAMINATION
1 BY MR. DAUGHERTY:
2 Q Are you familiar with the work on this case of Special
3 Agent Kevin Boles?
4 A Yes, sir.
5 Q Did he prepare a PowerPoint, or presentation in this
7 A I stand corrected. Mr. Boles, he did assist with the
9 Q Additionally, were there --
10 MR. DAUGHERTY: Well, nothing further. Withdraw that
12 THE COURT: Okay. Anything else?
13 MR. TERRELL: Nothing else.
14 THE COURT: Okay, you can resume your seat at counsel
15 table, yet again.
16 And you can call your next witness.