Blood evidence linked to suspect in slaying
The third day of the Jason Borelli murder trial continued in Douglas County Court Wednesday with only 13 jurors. Tuesday's testimony by forensic pathologist Janis Amatuzio, accompanied by pictures of the many injuries Leah Gustafson suffered, pro...
The third day of the Jason Borelli murder trial continued in Douglas County Court Wednesday with only 13 jurors.
Tuesday's testimony by forensic pathologist Janis Amatuzio, accompanied by pictures of the many injuries Leah Gustafson suffered, proved too much for one juror on the 14-member panel. The juror started to feel ill, so testimony was halted for a brief recess. When the jury returned, Judge Michael Lucci said the juror had been excused. Neither Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank nor Borelli's attorney, Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill, objected.
Borelli, 32, is accused of first-degree intentional homicide for the Jan. 7 death of Gustafson in her 1910 John Ave. apartment. The defendant has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Amatuzio's autopsy photos revealed signs of strangulation, bruising, stabbing and multiple wounds consistent with being hit with a blunt object.
The 29-year-old Superior woman died as a result of stab wounds that caused massive internal bleeding, Amatuzio said.
A collectible samurai sword found beside the body had what appeared to be blood on about 9 inches of the blade, Amatuzio said. That was significant, she said, because Gustafson's body measured 8 inches in thickness at the point where two stab wounds penetrated her.
Fingerprints were found on the sword, Superior police Officer Todd Ayers said.
Wednesday's testimony also followed the footsteps of the police as they searched for the murder suspect -- from blood spatters in Gustafson's living room and what appeared to be bloody smudges on the building's stairway walls to red drops in the snow outside the house.
Officers found what appeared to be blood smudges on the sidewalk beside the dwelling at 1901 John Ave., across the street from Gustafson's apartment building. Officer Michelle Lear said investigators found similar smudges, a pattern "as if it were footprints."
More smears of what appeared to be blood were found on an exterior side door of the building and the handle of the inner door, Lear said.
Sgt. Nick Alexander told the jury he led an entry into the building to ensure its occupants were not in danger and to keep possible evidence from being destroyed. They found one open door on the second floor, which was later found to be Borelli's room, and met him coming out of the second-floor bathroom. He was wet and had on a pair of light blue shorts with what appeared to be a blood stain on the back.
"His eyes were very red," Lear testified. "You could see scratches around his eyes." She also noticed a significant scratch on Borelli's back.
Borelli and two other occupants of 1901 John Ave. were found on the second floor. The other two appeared to have been sleeping, Alexander said, and all three were surprised. He described Borelli's expression as a "deer-in-the-headlights look."
Detective Joe Kreig returned later that day with a search warrant for Borelli's room and bathroom. Officers found a set of keys and a pair of dark shoes in the bedroom with what appeared to be spots of blood on them. Bloody clothing was located inside the bathroom vanity under the sink.