Last Updated: Friday, July 13, 2001, 6:30 a.m.
Prosecution could rest as early as Tuesday
Defendant expected to take stand in
his own defense
by Bill D'Agostino
The judge presiding over the murder trial against Kenneth Fitzhugh
told the jury yesterday that the prosecution may be finished presenting
its case as early as Tuesday.
Fitzhugh is accused of killing his wife, Kristine Fitzhugh in
their Southgate home last year.
The trial is recessed all day Friday.
If the judge's prognostication turns out to be true, it would
mean the trial is moving well ahead of schedule. During pretrial
motions, Fletcher expected to present his case in 4 to 5 weeks.
Justin Fitzhugh, Kristine Fitzhugh's son, has not testified yet,
but is expected to before the prosecution rests.
After Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher concludes his
presenting of witnesses and evidence, Kenneth Fitzhugh's attorney,
Thomas Nolan, will get to present his own witnesses to counter the
findings presented against his client.
The testimony of Kristine Fitzhugh's former lover, Robert Brown,
who took the stand on Wednesday, ended early Thursday morning.
Brown testified that Kristine called him six months before her
death alerting him that she planned to tell her son, Justin, that
Brown was his biological father. This is key to Fletcher's theory
that the motive for why Kenneth Fitzhugh, a former Boy Scout leader
with no history of domestic violence, might have brutally murdered
Fletcher argued in opening statements that Kenneth Fitzhugh bludgeoned
and strangled his wife in the family's home because he didn't want
her to reveal to Justin that he was not the boy's genetic progenitor.
According to Fletcher, Kenneth Fitzhugh then dragged his wife's
body into the basement to stage her death as a fall, and cleaned
up the blood evidence of his deed from the kitchen floor.
But Nolan believes that Brown, a disbarred attorney with a history
of drug abuse and criminal activity, is an unreliable witness.
Nolan argued that an intruder killed Kristine, but police missed
evidence leading to that conclusion because they were blinded by
their belief that Kenneth Fitzhugh committed the crime.
Nolan questioned Brown about whether police had tried to bias
him against Kenneth Fitzhugh by telling him facts of their investigation.
Brown said that they hadn't, but upon further questions by Nolan,
he did admit that police mentioned "in passing" that investigators
were exploring the possibility of "strange behavior" in the Fitzhugh
home, including evidence of extramarital affairs, as well as gay
and lesbian activity.
Referring to Kristine, Brown described his lover as a "very prestigious
woman and she led a very upstanding life . . . she was very well
respected by the community and by me."
The next witness to take the stand after Brown was Cynthia Hall,
a Santa Clara County criminologist who analyzed blood-swab evidence
taken from the Fitzhugh home by Palo Alto police.
Testimony by the professional and self-assured Hall was a marked
difference from the backtracking and wobbly testimony made by Brown.
In lengthy testimony and cross-examination, Hall said that DNA
tests revealed that much of the blood evidence taken from the kitchen,
basement, and bathroom was most likely blood from Kristine Fitzhugh.
Hall also noted that a few of swabs taken from the kitchen contained
a mixture of Kristine Fitzhugh's DNA and the DNA of another man,
not Kenneth Fitzhugh.
However, that evidence, because DNA is so easy to discover, could
have been from any number of people who were inside the Fitzhugh
Kenneth Fitzhugh's DNA was only found in the downstairs bathroom,
where witnesses had seen him clean himself off after attempting
to give his wife CPR.
After Hall, Santa Clara County criminologist David Chun took the
stand. Chun used a chemical known as luminol to reveal spots that
were possibly blood inside the Fitzhugh home.
He testified that police investigators often use luminol "as a
last resort" to find evidence of a crime scene that has been cleaned.
Accompanied by Palo Alto police, Chun sprayed the chemical in
rooms of the Fitzhugh's homes, turned off all lights and looked
for glows that revealed possible evidence of blood.
The chemical revealed one large 4-by-4-foot glowing spot on the
kitchen floor, as well as spots on kitchen chairs, and the steps
going down to the basement.
Luminol as an investigative tool has its flaws, however. Chun
noted that it will reveal other chemicals, such as bleach and vegetable
extracts, as well. He did say that other chemicals will not glow
as long or as brightly as blood.
Nolan questioned Chun about why only certain parts of the house
had been sprayed for luminol, especially wondering why no part of
the basement floor, where Kristine's body had been found, had been
Nolan has accused the police of willfully neglecting to look for
evidence that would show that anybody other than Kenneth Fitzhugh
committed the crime.
One of the remaining witnesses for Fletcher will be Dr. John Thornton,
one of the leading luminaries in the crime scene use of luminol,
who will dissect the usefulness of the chemical as well as the evidence
gotten by Palo Alto Police.
Nolan will get to call his own luminol expert to counter Thornton
sometime in the weeks to follow as he presents his case.
A list of other potential witnesses for the defense have emerged
during proceedings and court documents. They include: experts to
discuss cell-phone technology; the director of forensic services
for the San Francisco Police Department to dispute blood evidence;
a pathologist to give an alternative explanation for the manner
of Kristine's death; Kenneth Fitzhugh's psychiatrist; as well as
the defendant, Kenneth Fitzhugh.
During pretrial proceedings, Nolan said that he expected to call
his client to the stand.