Canine evidence allowed in court

Canine evidence allowed in court
August 25, 2012
 The Detroit News
Christine Ferretti

Forensic expert says dog detected scent of missing Detroit girl

Detroit — A canine expert, whose dog allegedly detected a cadaver scent in the home and car of a father charged in the killing of his missing 2-year-old daughter, will be allowed to testify at trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said the testimony will be admitted in D'Andre Lane's Sept. 18 trial. The Detroit father is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of Bianca Jones.

Evans delivered her decision after Lane's defense team spent more than two hours trying to discredit the relatively new scientific method of using cadaver dogs to detect human decomposition.

"I believe the evidence offered is sufficient to go forward," Evans told the defense. "The people should be allowed to demonstrate to a jury that your client was implicated in this particular murder."

Evans also denied a motion by Lane's attorneys to halt further proceedings while the state Court of Appeals evaluates a request from the defense to have the case tossed out. The attorneys said they will appeal Friday's ruling.

Prosecutors called two forensic canine experts Friday before Evans moved to admit the testimony at trial, which is key for prosecutors since Bianca's body has not been found.

Forensic canine expert Martin Grime has testified that his victim recovery dog, Morse, detected a cadaver scent inside Lane's car, on the child's blanket and on a car seat, and in the girl's bedroom and in Lane's home. Grime said the dogs cannot determine identity, age, race, gender or the rate of decomposition.

Danian Woodson, an attorney for Lane, said after the hearing the alleged evidence is "not admissible, not relevant, highly prejudicial and should be excluded."

Lane has said Bianca was in the back seat of his 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis the morning of Dec. 2 when he was approached by armed carjackers near Brush Street and Grand River.

The vehicle was found shortly after, but the child was not inside.

Grime testified in court Friday that Morse has never had a false positive response and that testing done just before and after the dog worked in the Jones case was successful.

Prosecutors allege Lane beat Bianca to death with a hard stick over a potty training incident.

Lane's other attorney, Terry Johnson, said Lane did spank the child with the stick, but there's no evidence of abuse or murder since her whereabouts is unknown.

Lane's girlfriend, Anjali Lyons, has testified she awoke Dec. 2 to Bianca's screams as Lane used the stick to beat the toddler for urinating in bed. Later the same morning, Lane carried a silent Bianca to his car. She was covered with a blanket.

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