Published May 29. 2009 4:00AM
New London - After six days, testimony in the probable-cause hearing for Charles Buck, who is accused of murdering his wife, Leslie, in their Mystic home in 2002, was completed on Thursday.
New London Superior Court Judge Susan Handy then asked prosecutors and Buck's attorneys to review their upcoming schedules so she can set a date for closing arguments.
Handy will then review the evidence presented during the hearing before rendering a decision about whether the case should go to trial.
While previous days featured the long-awaited testimony of Carol Perez (now Carol Stephens), the much younger woman Buck showered with gifts and cash before and after his wife's death, and graphic testimony by a state medical examiner about Leslie Buck's head injuries, Thursday's two witnesses were more routine.
They included Deborah Messina, the director of the state's forensic laboratory, and Stonington police Detective Cody Floyd, who returned to the stand to be cross-examined by Buck's attorney, Hubert Santos, about his investigation into Leslie Buck's death.
Messina described the array of blood drops and smears she found on the two shirts and pair of shorts that Leslie was wearing when she died from a head injury in her Mystic home in 2002.
Messina, who has worked for the lab for more than 28 years, said some of the stains indicate the source of the blood came from above Leslie Buck's clothes and that there are smears caused when an object with blood on it came in contact with her shirt. Messina said a stain on her shorts was made by a moving object that cast off blood while two sets of drops on her shirt indicate "the blood source" was in motion to create the two different angles.
Prosecutors allege that Charles Buck struck his wife in the forehead with a wire club and she then fell, fracturing her skull. A state medical examiner, though, has testified she was unable to determine how Leslie Buck sustained the injury that killed her.
While being questioned by Seeley, Messina agreed that blood pattern analysis can be complex and its interpretation can be difficult.
"Do you agree the uncertainties are enormous? Seeley asked her.
"Probably," Messina responded after a long pause.
While Messina also agreed with Seeley that conclusions made about blood stains is subjective, she said the patterns are based on physics.
During Santos' questioning of Floyd, Handy fielded numerous objections from prosecutor Lawrence Tytla about questions Santos was trying to ask Floyd and notes and reports Santos was trying to get into evidence.
Santos said he was trying to show that Floyd was biased in his investigation after associate state medical examiner Dr. Malka Shah ruled that she could not say how Leslie Buck sustained the head injuries that killed her.
He questioned Floyd at length about various meetings he had with Shah and other medical examiners and investigators. Santos said Floyd did not include concerns from one medical examiner about how Leslie died in his arrest-warrant application and wrote in a 2005 report that three medical examiners he had met with told him the death was a homicide when in fact one of them wrote back to him to say they had not all agreed that it was. Floyd said he recalls them saying it was.
Floyd said that while he met with Shah on a number of occasions, he never asked Shah to change her determination about how Buck died. He said police continued to investigate the case despite the medical examiner saying she could not say what caused the head injuries because it was an important case and they did not want to miss anything.
Floyd said that when he questioned Charles Buck a few days after his wife's death, he was initially cooperative. But Floyd said when he began asking Buck about individual gifts and money he gave Perez, Buck originally lied but then admitted to the gifts when Floyd presented him with information police had discovered.
"It was like pulling teeth to get anything out of him," Floyd said.
He said Buck also offered a different version from what he originally told police about where he was in the hours before he called police to say he found his wife's dead body in their home. He admitted to Floyd that he went to the now-defunct Drawbridge Inne, where Perez worked, before he returned to his house.