Details filled the morning testimony given in day four of John Oldson's murder trial. The state presented numerous photo's of the site where Catherine Beard's skeletal remains were discovered back in April of 1992. Like the previous days of the trial, Oldson just sat quietly, writing on a legal pad, next to his defense team, James Mowbray and Sarah Newell. Mowbray cross examined retired former Superintendent of Fort Hartsuff, Roye Lindsay, who is an anthropologist. The defense focused it's questioning on the locations where bones were found on the east and west sides of the minimum maintenance road Southeast of Ord NE.
Gene Bower of Ord was called to the stand by Corey O'Brian of the attorney general's office. Bower discussed his casual relationship with Beard from 1986-1989. The last time Bower saw Beard was May 29th at the SomePlace Else Tavern in Ord. During defense cross Bower was presented with a report he had made in regards to Beard's distrust of her then neighbor Jerry B, Bower could not remember the last name.
Retired Detective Larry Karschner took the stand briefly to confirm grid drawings he made at the bone discovery site and also to verify a watch confirmed to be Beard's. Interestingly enough a second watch was discovered by a road grader on May 6, 1992 on the road near the skeletal remains. Karschner also discussed the exhumation of Beard's remains on September 13, 2001. Noted was the fact her casket was full of water, yet the remains inside were bagged in plastic and unharmed. The remains were delivered to Dr Karl Reinhart of the University of Nebraska by the Nebraska State Patrol, for further testing by Dr. Reinhart's department.
Video depositions filled the remainder of the morning with Dr. Roger McCartney and his wife Bonnie. The state began with the optometrist's deposition to explain the work Oldson's father was doing on the McCartney's home in Ord at the time of Beard's disappearance. Dick Oldson owned and operated a brick laying business, at which John Oldson worked. Dr. McCarney confirmed for the state he did call the Oldson home on the night of May 31, 1989 and Bonnie confirmed the time was between 7:30PM and 8:00PM. This coo berates Oldson's statement verifying the time he went home to bathe after he left the tavern, when Beard spurned his advances.
DNA and Forensic Anthropology expert's testimony filled the afternoon. Melissa Helligso, a forensic DNA analyst from the Nebraska Medical Center in Lincoln educated the jury on how much DNA testing has changed in the past 23 years and how the testing is much more advanced. Helligso was the lead analyst confirming the identity of Beard back in 2002 with just a tooth and blood from Beard's mother Bonita, who is now deceased. DNA results confirmed 98.989% accuracy back then confirming the evidence cannot be excluded, according to Helligso.
Closing out the final hours of the court day, Dr. Karl Reinhart testified about forensic anthropology and his expertise in the area of forensic science. Dr. Reinhart pieced together the puzzle of Beard's skeletal remains, informing jurists only 70% of the skeleton was recovered at the site where the body was found. Photo's presented by the state, showed a skull with fractures radiating out from a triangular piece of skull which is missing. Dr. Reinhart showed the left tibia with 3 fractures and other bones with slight cut marks. According to Dr. Reinhart, Beard had a genetic abnormality in her spine resulting in one extra lower lumbar vertebrae.
The defense crossed with questions of where the skull fragments were found, on the west side of the road in the pasture, and asked if predators could have moved the bones. Dr. Reinhart did say it was possible predators might have moved the bones, or even possibly water washing the remains from one to spot to another.