Blood in suspect’s van belonged to Bourque

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The odds that blood found in Joseph Jimmy Desormeaux’s van came from someone other than Summer Bourque are 1 in 22.47 quadrillion.

Jurors in Judge John Stevens’ courtroom heard technical data from several forensic specialists during the second day of deliberations on Wednesday.

Forensic scientist Amy Rogers of Orchid Cellmark, a private forensic and paternity testing facility, testified in regards to DNA samples sent to the Dallas lab. One sample was of the femur of homicide victim, Summer Bourque, and the second sample contained two swabs with samples of blood found in the van.

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Rogers concluded that, in the absence of an identical twin, the blood samples came from Bourque and the chance the sample came from another Caucasian person, unrelated to the victim, is astromical.

Tiffany Aardhel, a forensic scientist with the Jefferson County Crime Lab, said the reason Bourque’s femur was used for testing is because the body was so badly decomposed. The bone, she said, held the best chance for a viable source of tissue.

Evidence in the case was first analyzed by the crime lab with some samples analyzed by the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and the Orchid Cellmar lab.

Bourque’s badly decomposed body was found by Jacob Vidrine, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employee, as the man was traveling the waterway on the J.D. Murphree Reserve on Aug. 13, 2008. Vidrine was en route to spray water hyacinths, a nuisance vegetation, on Bill Hill Bayou, which is located in the 11,500 acres of reserve.

Using a laser pointer, Vidrine aimed the red beam of light on a map of the waterway that was projected onto an overhead screen. He highlighted the spot on the reserve where he launched his boat as well as explaining the currents and tidal flow. The area had experienced heavy rains about two days prior to the grim discovery. The water backed up, north to south, on Big Hill, he said.

Vidrine told jurors he was moving south towards Big Hill when he noticed something floating in the water. At first he thought the object was an alligator floating belly-up . He turned the boat around and noticed the object was a human body. An alligator about nine to 10 feet in length was attacking the body so he placed his boat between the alligator and the body and “moved some water hyacinths away to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing.” Then he called 911.

He stayed at the site about 45 minutes without leaving during the wait, he said, to keep alligators and other boat traffic away from the area.

Prosecutor Ramon Rodriguez sifted through a mountain of evidence, a time consuming effort to enter the information into court records. Afterwards, four brown paper bags, a white mailing box and numerous brown envelopes, all marked with yellow tape and signatures, sat on a desk in front of Stevens and in close proximity of the witness stand.

Bourque was last seen with Desormeaux leaving Dylan’s bar and restaurant Aug. 10, 2008.

If convicted, Desormeaux faces five to 99 years in prison or life.

Testimony will continue in Judge Stevens’ courtroom Thursday.