Monday, October 12, 2015
I have written before about the chain of custody issues involving the windshield wiper lever in Hae Min Lee's Nissan Sentra. Now that I have seen the chain of custody form for the lever, the evidentiary problem has come into sharper focus.
Here is the chain of custody form:
The clear problem here is that the chain of custody form starts on April 12, 1999. That was the day on which Detective MacGillivary sent the windshield wiper lever to the Trace Analysis Unit for a fracture analysis. Before this date, however:
-the Sentra was taken into police custody on February 28, 1999;
-the Sentra was released to a body shop owned by Hae's uncle on March 7, 1999;
-the windshield wiper lever demonstration was recorded on March 16, 1999, at which point, at a minimum, the ignition collar had been replaced; and
-the Sentra had remained at the body shop for about another month, presumably outside and probably unlocked.
I thought that these events might have been recorded on the chain of custody form, but they clearly aren't. That's pretty much fatal to any claim of authentication. As such, Gutierrez easily could have objected to the admission of evidence relating to the windshield wiper lever, and that objection would have been sustained.