The Ottumwa Courier

July 19, 2013

Fingerprints, blood analyzed in Pollard trial

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Witnesses zoomed in on the minute details of the crime scene in the Bruce Pollard case, analyzing fingerprints and DNA found on several items.

Pollard, 26, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of Cinema X manager Kenneth McDaniel on March 11, 2012. His body was discovered two days later.

Dr. Sabrina Seehafer, of the DNA section of the Iowa DCI crime lab, provided Darwin Chapman, an expert in fingerprint analysis with the DCI, a buccal — or cheek — swab from Pollard and a "blood card" from McDaniel to establish their DNA profiles.

From the several blood-stained areas in Cinema X, none came back as a match for Pollard's DNA, she said.

"The major contributor in all of the stains was Kenneth McDaniel," she said. "In laymen's terms, that's a match."

Five bloody areas of McDaniel's body were swabbed during the autopsy and sent to DCI. All matched McDaniel's DNA but one area, on McDaniel's right hand, which tested positive for a mixture of DNA.

That mixture tested positive for both McDaniel's and Pollard's DNA.

The dark blue polo shirt prosecutors allege Pollard was wearing when he killed McDaniel was also tested, and both McDaniel's and Pollard's blood were found.

Seehafer also noted that McDaniel's blood was identified on the pry bar.

Defense attorney Allen Cook asked Seehafer if, "we assume that the [front door] was locked prior to the altercation and if we further assume that Kenneth McDaniel was behind Bruce Pollard when [he] discovered that the door was locked," would Pollard have had "any reasonable means to escape?"

It was "close quarters" in Cinema X, Seehafer said, and while the counters are not terribly high, it would have been difficult to leap or climb over them.

But, prosecutor Scott Brown said, the sliding bolt lock on the inside of the front door could be operated by anyone without a key.

Chapman was given two sets of pornographic DVD cases, photos of fingerprints and a pry bar (the alleged murder weapon) from the Promise Center and fingerprints and a metal cash box from Cinema X.

The cash box yielded one identifiable fingerprint, that of McDaniel. Defense attorney Natasha O'Hollearn emphasized the fact that Pollard's fingerprints were not identified on the cash box, since prosecutors allege he stole money from the theater after killing McDaniel.

Pollard's fingerprints were identified on one of the DVD cases found at the Promise Center and McDaniel's fingerprint was found on another.

The next set of DVD cases tested yielded fingerprints from Pollard and McDaniel.

The fingerprint found in dust in the storage area upstairs at the Promise Center matched Pollard's.

Out of the 14 fingerprints lifted from Cinema X, eight were suitable for identification, he said, though none matched Pollard or McDaniel.

No identifiable fingerprints were found on the pry bar, Chapman said, though that is often the case with tools since they are handled so much and fingerprints can be easily smeared.

"The ... impressions section of the Iowa crime lab finds fingerprints of value on approximately 15 percent of all items we look at," Chapman said. "That means in 85 percent of the evidence we process we find nothing of value."

Ottumwa Investigator Steve Harris took the stand again while the court listened to an audio recording of an interview he had with Pollard on March 16, 2012, the day after he was arrested.

After discussing the seizures Pollard had had in the week prior and where he had been staying and hanging out, Harris said, "I'm very confident that you killed Kenny."

"Then why haven't I been charged with anything?" Pollard asked, to which Harris replied that charges are not always made "right off the bat" during investigations.

"I know you went in there and you killed Kenny," Harris told Pollard. "I know what happened, I just don't know why it happened. Sometimes you get somebody who may have killed somebody or hurt somebody on accident, stolen something, but under the right circumstances it could be explainable. That's why I'm here. I want to figure out what happened.

"I'm telling you, I know it's you. I've got your shirt. I've got your bloody shirt."

Pollard did not admit to the crime during this interview.

Carl Van Fleet, the Ottumwa Cab Company driver who picked up Pollard twice on March 11, 2012, also testified Friday morning.

He first picked up Pollard at 9:15 p.m. at South Ottumwa Savings Bank downtown and took him to Hy-Vee Drug, where they found out it was closed. They then went to the BP across the street and then back downtown.

Approximately an hour later, Van Fleet was called to pick up Pollard again, and took him to 522 Camille St., Pollard's girlfriend's house, stopping at another BP along the way so Pollard could tip him. During this trip, Pollard showed Van Fleet injuries to his head after removing a hat.

The trial resumes this afternoon. Follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter at @ChelseaLeeDavis.