Related topics

Markhasev Defense Mirrors Simpson’s

June 24, 1998

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ The lawyer for the man accused of gunning down Ennis Cosby launched an attack on police evidence handling Wednesday, suggesting that a single minuscule hair tying him to the killing was planted.

The strategy of attacking scientific evidence gathering was reminiscent of the defense attack on the work of Los Angeles police criminalists in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her friend. He was later held liable in a civil trial.

The tiny hair linked Mikail Markhasev to a knit cap which was found around a gun five miles from the crime scene. A ballistics expert testified the .38-caliber pistol killed Cosby.

But the prosecutor so far has shown no physical evidence other than the hair that can tie Markhasev to the gun.

Defense attorney Henry Hall showed that a police criminalist told the case investigator that hair and trace evidence gathered from the knit cap was ``too small and would probably yield no probative evidence.″

Susan Brockbank said it was not until 11 months after the cap was found and two months after she gave her discouraging assessment that she discovered a single 2 millimeter-long hair with enough genetic material to subject it to DNA testing.

``At that point, you informed your supervisors of your discovery?″ asked Hall.

``Yes,″ said Brockbank, who told of a hasty meeting of the prosecution team.

Los Angeles police DNA analyst Harry Klann said he tested the tiny hair and found similarities to a sample of Markhasev’s hair plucked from his head after his arrest.

It was brought out that Brockbank never counted the hairs plucked from Markhasev’s scalp. Without directly asking the question, the defense suggested that one of those hairs was planted and was the one that Brockbank suddenly discovered.

``The DNA from the hair could have come from Mikail Markhasev or any other individual with the same DNA marker types,″ Klann said. But he said only one in 15,500 members of the population would have those genetic characteristics.

That excludes 99.99 percent of the population, he said. He added that the hair could not have come from Cosby.

The son of entertainer Bill Cosby was shot as he changed a flat tire along a dark road early on Jan. 16, 1997. Shooting witness Stephanie Crane, who had a date with Ennis Cosby, told police the assailant wore a cap.

The defense has said it will prove that the true killer is a friend of Markhasev, 19, who was with him the night of the killing. That man, Eli Zakaria, is expected to testify for the prosecution