It was a day of near-complete success for the prosecution in the double-murder trial of Jason Anthony Warren, which is proceeding ahead of schedule. In morning testimony, criminalists from the California Department of Justice seemed to lock down some key evidence with airtight scientific analysis. However, before the day’s hearing came to an end, the defendant’s estranged ex-wife, Ti San Che Lincoln, stopped just short of positively identifying him in video and audio surveillance footage captured during the murder of Dorothy Ulrich.
The criminologists offered perhaps the strongest pieces of evidence against Warren thus far — namely, a series of DNA matches showing that Warren had Ulrich’s blood on his shoes and shorts; the Kia Spectra he allegedly used to run down three women had Ulrich’s blood on the driver’s side floor mat; and each of the other three women’s blood was found on the windshield and exterior of the car.
Kay Belschner, a California Department of Justice criminologist continuing her testimony from yesterday, discussed various fibers, glass fragments, bits of dried blood and other pieces of evidence recovered from the Kia. Defense attorney Glenn Brown asked a series of questions about the methodology Belschner used to recover and analyze that evidence — and questions about the evidence itself — though it was not clear how (or if) the inquiry helped his client.
DOJ criminalist Don Dunbar testified that a small piece of grille recovered at the site of the hit-and-run on Myrtle matched another piece of the grille taken from the Kia. The contours, scratches and marks on the pieces matched up “extremely well,” Dunbar said.
Next up was fellow DOJ criminalist Rebecca Gaxiola, who studied DNA evidence submitted by the Bureau of Forensic Sciences lab in Eureka. After giving the jury a primer on what DNA is and how it’s tested, Gaxiola testified that a blood stain taken from Warren’s left shoe came back as a DNA match with Ulrich, and the odds for such a match occurring with a random person were communicated as one in multiple quadrillions or quintillions — about as close as science gets to total certainty.
Gaxiola expressed roughly the same degree of certainty for other samples. A stain from the athletic shorts Warren was wearing when he was arrested came up as another DNA match with Ulrich, as was blood found on the driver’s side floor mat from the Kia.
A swab of a stain on the right door window and exterior of the Kia matched the DNA of Jessica Hunt, one of the women badly injured in the hit-and-run.
Tissue recovered from the center of the Kia’s smashed windshield came back as a DNA match for Terri Vroman Little, the other badly injured victim from that collision.
And tissue found on the left side of the windshield was a DNA match for Suzanne Seemann, who was killed in the incident.
Later in the day, the jury got the first hints of evidence from a 2001 incident that was repeatedly — if cryptically — mentioned during jury selection. As the Two Rivers Tribune reported three years ago, Warren was convicted of attempted murder that year, when he was only 16 years old. Rick Chandler, a former deputy with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, testified about responding to an apparent stabbing in McKinleyville in April 2001, and while Warren’s name wasn’t specifically mentioned in his testimony it was clear that the defendant would eventually be connected to that prior crime.
The final witness of the day was Warren’s wife, Ti-San-Che Lincoln, who returned to the stand having left on a bit of a cliffhanger on day six of the trial. According to her testimony that day, as well as questioning from prosecutor Paul Sequeira, Lincoln had positively identified Warren in security camera footage during a preliminary hearing. But during last Thursday’s testimony in the actual trial, Lincoln said she was unsure. The footage didn’t look as clear, she said.
Her uncertainty continued today. Sequeira began by showing her what appeared to be a cleaned-up clip from the security camera footage, which showed a figure moving across the grainy screen from left to right.
“It looks like Jason to me,” Lincoln said.
Sequeira then had her listen to the audio recording from the violent murder of Ulrich, marking the third time that the jury has heard the clip. Lincoln sat trembling with her eyes closed as she listened to the series of violent blows and Ulrich’s terrified cries for mercy. At one point she grabbed a Kleenex and dabbed away tears.
Afterwards Sequeira asked if she was able to hear a male voice and if she had an opinion about who it was.
“I can’t say I do,” she said, her voice trembling. As explanation for her uncertainty she said the audio was “really traumatizing to hear.”
Sequeira kept his cool. He asked Lincoln if she remembered listening to the audio in a preliminary hearing and being asked the same questions by former District Attorney Paul Gallegos. And did she remember telling Gallegos that it was Jason Warren’s voice?
“I do,” she replied. But it’s been so long since she heard his voice, she explained. However, in her next breath she told Sequeira that she had spoken with Warren “right before coming to court” last week.
“And his voice hasn’t changed?” Sequeira asked calmly.
“Not really,” Lincoln said, adding “It’s really hard, the whole situation. Everything in the video.”
Sequeira was stuck. “Do you want to hear it again?” he asked.
“No,” she replied emphatically.
In cross-examination, Brown sought to take advantage of her uncertainty. He asked if she had maybe been pressured or given “helpful suggestions” by the DA’s office during her original questioning.
“I don’t recall,” Lincoln said.
“Were you pretty upset?” Brown pressed. “Was it just something you wanted to get through?”
“Yes,” Lincoln said.
Brown asked if she was absolutely certain that it was Warren in the video, and Lincoln said she wasn’t sure.
On redirect, Sequeira had one more shot to nail her down, and he resorted to reading a transcript from the preliminary hearing. He asked Lincoln if she remembered Gallegos asking if she was able to see who was in the video, and if she remembered saying, ‘Jason Warren.’”
Lincoln said she did, and she also agreed that she’d been doing her best to tell the truth that day, just as she was today.
With that, the prosecution was out of witnesses for the day. Judge Timothy Cissna told the jury earlier in the day that the trial is proceeding ahead of schedule. There will be no hearings next week due to Thanksgiving, but after conferring with both attorneys Cissna predicted that the case will be delivered to the jury sometime during the week of Nov. 30.
The case is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
- Jury Hears Audio of Dorothy Ulrich’s Violent Death on First Day of Warren Trial
- Attorneys Spar Over Evidence Before Warren’s Health Forces Early Recess in Double-Murder Case
- Jury Sees Photos of Battered, Blood-Smeared Kia on Day Three of Warren Trial
- Warren Trial, Day Four: Security Footage, Samurai Swords and a Vanishing Witness
- Warren Trial, Day Five: ‘The Type of Scream You Hear in a Horror Movie’
- Warren Trial, Day Six: The Evidence Mounts
- Warren Trial, Day Seven: The Autopsies