VALLEJO — The prosecution in a murder trial was abruptly halted Wednesday and District Attorney Donald A. du Bain’s ethics policy, which he has labeled as “the gold standard,” has been further tarnished.
Three days into the prosecution case against a Vallejo man accused of suffocating his girlfriend in a Vallejo motel room in August 2012, a DNA expert testified that she had 150 pages of notes and photographs about her DNA testing of crime scene evidence that had not been shared with defense attorneys before the start of the jury trial.
The revelation came after several days of pretrial hearings revolving around an effort by the defense lawyers for Michael A. Daniels to have his case thrown out because of alleged prosecution misconduct.
Those hearings ended with Judge Daniel Healy issuing a scathing 37-page report last month, blasting prosecutors for not revealing hundreds of pages of documents about the doctor who conducted dozens of homicide autopsies, who had been abruptly fired last year after a secret investigation about questions of her competency.
Healy told prosecutor Andrew Ganz that he and another deputy district attorney had repeatedly assured him that all documents related to the case against Daniels had been shared with the defense.
Daniels’ attorney, Meenha Lee, promptly renewed her request to throw out the case over the latest prosecution lapse. Healy put off a response to the request until Monday.
Ganz hemmed and hawed a bit, telling Healy it had not occurred to him to ask the DNA expert if she had documents related to three reports she authored on the crime-scene evidence.
“I don’t have a good explanation for why I did not ask her,” Ganz told Healy. “There’s been a lot going on for me. . . . It wouldn’t have taken much for me.”
Ganz assured Healy he would drive to the DNA expert’s San Mateo office Thursday morning to get copies of the 150 pages of notes and photos and would get them to defense attorneys before noon.
The pathologist who conducted the autopsy in Daniels’ case, Dr. Susan Hogan, is expected to testify as the final prosecution witness when the trial resumes Monday.
In his re-election bid, du Bain touts his office’s policy on sharing information with defense lawyers, as required by law, as one of his top accomplishments. Healy’s previous ruling criticized du Bain’s policy implementation.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.