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DNA May Link Cosby Case Suspect

June 24, 1998

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ DNA testing showed that a hair from a knit cap found wrapped around a gun could have come from the man accused of murdering Ennis Cosby, a police criminalist testified today.

The testimony came as defendant Mikail Markhasev’s attorney attacked evidence handling, keying on the disappearance of seven hairs collected in the investigation.

Criminalist Harry Klann said he was able to do DNA typing on only one hair because others found on the cap didn’t contain enough tissue at the root. He concluded that the DNA could have come from Markhasev or any other person with the same DNA marker types.

The frequency with which those markers occur in the population is one in 15,500, said Klann, who works for the Los Angeles Police Department. He said the hair could not have come from Cosby.

Earlier, in a painstaking cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Henry Hall asked criminalist Susan Brockbank to recount every step of her involvement in the case as she extracted hairs and trace evidence from watch caps which were relevant to the case.

The strategy was reminiscent of the defense attack on the work of Los Angeles police criminalists who collected physical evidence for the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Brockbank told of beginning her work in March 1997, placing evidence in envelopes, studying hairs under a stereomicroscope and submitting it for DNA testing.

She said that on March 27, 1997, she logged in 20 hairs as evidence. But Hall showed that on Jan. 20, 1998, when the envelopes were returned to her, there were only 13 hairs present and one envelope was empty.

Brockbank testified Tuesday that through microscopic examination of one hair taken from a watch cap, she was able to match characteristics with hair samples taken from Markhasev’s head. That cap was wrapped around a gun found miles from the killing site.

Brockbank also received two other knit caps that were seized from Markhasev’s apartment. One of those caps has been described as similar to one worn by the killer.

The 27-year-old son of entertainer Bill Cosby was shot as he changed a flat tire along a dark road early on the morning of Jan. 16, 1997. Shooting witness Stephanie Crane told police the assailant wore a cap.

Crane’s testimony Tuesday filled in missing pieces of Cosby’s last day as the prosecutor sought to show that Markhasev killed Cosby in a spur-of-the-moment robbery.

A composed Crane, 48, told of seeing Cosby’s killer at the murder scene but was unable to identify the person from mug shots provided by the prosecutor. She had also failed to pick Markhasev out in an earlier lineup.

Her testimony was helpful to Markhasev. His lawyers claim that Eli Zakaria, a onetime friend of Markhasev’s who was at the scene of the killing, was the real killer. Zakaria is expected to testify against Markhasev.

Crane said she met Cosby the week before he was killed. She said they had planned to go on a dinner date on Jan. 15, 1997, but he was detained. He called her several times, the last time after midnight when he informed her he had a flat tire. She drove to the site, staying in her car but shining her headlights on him to help out as he worked on the tire.

``All of a sudden a man’s face appeared in my window,″ she testified. ``He said, ’Open your door or I’ll shoot.‴

The witness said she pulled forward and ``I made a turn, thinking if I shone my lights it would scare him off.″

``When I turned around I couldn’t see Ennis. I started screaming, ‘Ennis! Ennis!’ I had the crazy thought that he’d been kidnapped,″ she said.

``Then I saw this person in the distance running. I looked down and I saw Ennis on the ground.″

Who was the man that ran away? Crane couldn’t tell.

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