DRYFUSE SLAYINGS Expert points finger at a family member
Prosecutors say the testimony is opinion, not fact.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- DNA found on a bloody washcloth is consistent with a family member, not the man suspected in the murder of a Pulaski Township woman and three children, according to a forensic pathologist.
Dr. Bennet Omalu testified in a pretrial hearing Thursday about a report he prepared after reviewing autopsies, photographs and police reports in the June 15, 1994 stabbing deaths of Bonnie Lou Dryfuse, 34, her two daughters, Jacqueline, 7, and Heather, 4, and their cousin, Stephanie Herko, 5.
Prosecutors want to bar some of Omalu's testimony, contending it's not based on scientific fact, but opinion and profiling, things not permitted in court.
Omalu, who works in the Allegheny County Coroner's Office, said the deaths are not consistent with a robbery gone bad, as prosecutors have offered as a motive, but a homicide committed by a family member.
Prosecutors say Omalu can't base that opinion on any scientific fact.
Omalu said DNA consistent with Thomas Dryfuse, the husband and father of three of the victims, was found on a bloody washcloth near the children and police photographs of Dryfuse's hands taken just after the murders show cuts and bruises.
The man accused in the homicides, Thomas Kimbell, 40, had no cuts and bruises, according to a medical exam done the day after the slayings, Omalu said.
Victims: The forensic pathologist said the victims had numerous defensive wounds from trying to fend off the killer.
Bonnie Lou Dryfuse, who weighed about 250 pounds, had no defensive wounds on her right shoulder, suggesting that she was held down, he said.
Her daughters, Jacqueline and Heather, also have complicated and severe knife wounds, but Stephanie Herko, the niece, wasn't as badly mutilated, he said.
"This is not consistent with the pattern of robberies. No robber spends time mutilating the bodies...," he said.
Hemophiliac: Omalu also said he later learned that Kimbell is a mild hemophiliac, a hereditary blood disease where a person bruises or bleeds easily because their blood cannot clot.
"For a 120-pound man [Kimbell], stabbing a 250-pound woman and to inflict stab wounds on children so brutal that they fractured the skulls and not sustain a single bruise, it's not feasible," he said.
Prosecutor Anthony Krastek of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office said Omalu's theory is only his opinion and not scientific fact.
Dr. Karl Williams, a forensic pathologist at Ellwood City Hospital, testified that there is no scientific way a forensic pathologist can determine who killed the victims.
Judge Dominick Motto is expected to determine if Omalu can testify on those matters during the trial, which is expected to start sometime next week.
This is Kimbell's second trial. He was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to die, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted him a new trial when it determined his attorney was not allowed to cross-examine a key witness.