Cop says Crisostomo refused to undergo lie detector test
Footprints lifted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from an area of the abandoned La Fiesta Mall where the body of bartender Emerita Romero was found on Feb. 7, 2012, matched Joseph A. Crisostomo’s barefoot impressions that were later taken by investigators, according to footprint expert who took the witness stand yesterday.
According to footprint, footwear, and tire impression expert William J. Bodziak, “there’s no difference” between the footprint impressions lifted by the FBI at the crime scene and Crisostomo’s barefoot impressions.
Bodziak, a retired FBI special agent, testified in the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil cases. His forensic analyses and testimonies also included the McVeigh and Nichols Oklahoma bombing trials and the VANPAC bombing trial.
Bodziak now operates Bodziak Forensics that provides consultation and examination of footwear impression, barefoot impression, and tire impression evidence.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho first heard Bodziak’s testimony without the presence of the eight jurors to determine whether Bodziak should be accepted as an expert on barefoot impression.
After a long examination of Bodziak by interim chief prosecutor Brian Flaherty and defense counsel Janet H. King, Camacho ruled that Bodziak is an expert not only on barefoot impression but also on footwear and tire and thread impressions based on his 29 years of experience with the FBI, having written three published books on such expertise, and having been accepted as an expert in other jurisdictions.
The jurors were then called back to the courtroom to hear Bodziak’s testimony.
About seven lawyers watched when Bodziak took the witness stand.
Testifying for the CNMI government in the ongoing jury trial of 40-year-old Crisostomo, Bodziak said his comparison of the footprint impressions lifted from the crime scene and Crisostomo’s barefoot impressions were based on the feet’s characteristics: size, heels, arches, toes, and balls.
Bodziak said he did not find any differences in the four footprint impressions (two for left foot and two for right foot) that he compared. He determined that the footprint impressions and photos have a high level of association to Crisostomo’s left and right foot.
Bodziak, however, stated that he could not exclude the possibility that other persons in the general population have the same feet quality or distinguishing characteristics as Crisostomo’s.
Bodziak said 67 photos were presented to him in this case and six long rolls of Crisostomo’s barefoot prints plus photos and videos of the process that was conducted at the Department of Corrections.
Bodziak explained that in examining and comparing footprint impressions, the four areas of the feet that need to be evaluated are the arches, heels, toes, and balls.
Bodziak said it was former chief prosecutor Shelli Neal who contacted him and inquired about this type of footprint analyses.
Neal then arranged for the expert to perform the examination and come to testify on Saipan. He estimated that he will be paid a total of $9,000 for everything such as performing the examination and making the report, travel, hotel, and other expenses.
Bodziak said he received from the FBI Saipan Office a copy disc that contained 67 images that include photos of footprints taken from La Fiesta on Feb. 7, 2012.
Bodziak said he was given an additional six rolls of ink impression of Crisostomo’s footprints that investigators took from the suspect at DOC on Dec. 24, 2013.
He said he was also provided four gelatin barefoot impressions taken from the crime scene.
The expert said there were already footprint impressions taken from Crisostomo on June 14, 2012, but that additional six rolls were forwarded at his request. He said he asked for more because it is important for his examination and comparison to have more left and right feet impressions.
Bodziak explained to the jurors the process of examination and comparison using a computer, a scanner, printer, and other tools. He also made a PowerPoint presentation to explain the process and how Crisostomo’s footprints fit when superimposed with the gelatin lift of the footprints found at La Fiesta Mall.
On defense counsel Janet H. King’s cross-examination, Bodziak agreed that Crisostomo’s weight bearing footprints correspond with the available footprint impressions from the crime scene.
Bodziak explained that walking is considered weight bearing footprints, but not sitting.
He said Crisostomo’s feet have no unique characteristics. He said the more unique characteristics such as scars or other deformities a foot has, the more it can reduce the population or the more people can be excluded as a source.
Bodziak agreed with King that his examination cannot personally identify Crisostomo. He also agreed with King that there is a possibility of another individual who has the same characteristics as Crisostomo’s feet.
He described Crisostomo’s feet as somewhat like a hockey stick, a characteristic that will further “reduce the population” but he considers it not unique.
In the continuation of his testimony, Police Officer 2 Kevin Maratita disclosed yesterday that Crisostomo refused to undergo a lie detector test during their investigation into the murder of Romero.
Maratita said that months after Romero was found at the abandoned La Fiesta Mall on Feb. 7, 2012, he met Crisostomo when the latter was supposed to undergo a polygraph test. Maratita said his role was to assist an FBI special agent in doing the polygraph test.
Maratita said they already set up the polygraph machine, but as soon as Crisostomo came into the room he appeared shocked and refused to take the test, saying he wanted to speak to a lawyer. Maratita said they did not conduct the test.
During cross-examination by King, Maratita agreed that he is aware that prior to the taking of Crisostomo’s barefoot prints at the Department of Corrections on Dec. 24, 2013, investigators already took Crisostomo’s footprints.
Maratita also participated in the taking of Crisostomo’s barefoot prints at DOC on Dec. 24, 2013.
Maratita said the defendant appeared to have lost weight almost two years since he last saw him in 2012.
Police officer Marylou Tanaka, an evidence custodian at the Department of Public Safety, was the government’s last witness to testify yesterday.
Answering questions from assistant attorney general Margo Brown-Badawy, Tanaka said she was one of the many police officers who responded to Building 2 of La Fiesta Mall on April 27, 2012, when Romero’s purse was found.
The purse contained a black wallet that also had pictures and quarters and other items, and a make-up bag. Other items found in the purse and the make-up bag were a bracelet, birth control pills, a check from Godfather’s Bar, a cellphone battery, keys, and other things.
The trial will continue today, Friday, at 8:30am.