Defense rests case in Alcantar Jr. trial

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After four days of testimonies and more than 20 witnesses taking the stand, the trial for Freddie Alcantar Junior is coming to a close. He faces a murder charge for the death of his mother-in-law, Deb Jones. The homicide happened in Aug. 2013.

Deb Jones
Deb Jones

Both the prosecution and defense have rested their case in the complicated trial. The defense only called three witnesses to the stand and rested its case after less than an hour and a half on Thursday afternoon. The prosecution called more than twenty witnesses over the four day period.

Mugshot of Freddie Alcantar courtesy the Allen County Sheriff's Department.
Mugshot of Freddie Alcantar courtesy the Allen County Sheriff’s Department.

Much like Wednesday afternoon, the main focus of Thursday dealt with the DNA evidence in this case. The defense called in an expert witness from Illinois to analyze the results from the Indiana State Police lab. Dr. Karl Reich has testified in more than 60 cases for forensic DNA.

Wednesday, a forensic scientist’s testimony revealed that the kitchen counter, bathroom door frame, and office light switch all tested positive for DNA mixtures from both Alcantar and Jones. Dr. Reich defined the mixture term as “mixture in the context of forensic DNA is when you have the DNA profile for more than one individual in the result.” That result came after the lab tested the evidence a second time using a method called “2-P.” The formula is better able to calculate and analyze partial DNA samples, but it’s not the only one available. Because of that, Thursday’s witness said:

“2P is an acceptable statistical calculation, but it’s not a consensus method. As the only statistical calculation used, I think it’s too hard to understand. You have to make assumptions, and then you can do the math calculations. There are definitely other statistical calculations you can make with a partial profile. That [2P] is certainly an acceptable one.” -Dr. Karl Reich

Dr. Reich explained to the jury the complicated process of mixture interpretation, noting how it’s a very hot and contentious topic in the scientific and forensic communities. He said,

“There’s no consensus in the field whatsoever. The process can be very difficult. There’s no magic yet.”

He then detailed how the partial profile of DNA means that it’s not a full set. When major and minor sets of DNA are found in a mixture, it means that more of the DNA is found in the major set and less DNA is found in the minor set. He said,

“There was never a full and unambiguous profile in the other [minor] set.”

The Indiana State Police lab tested more than a dozen samples from the crime scene for DNA evidence. The three locations that showed major and minor profiles are listed below:

  • Kitchen counter: DNA found for Freddie Alcantar as the major profile, DNA found for Deb Jones as the minor profile
  • Bathroom door frame: DNA found for Deb Jones as the major profile, DNA found for Freddie Alcantar as the minor profile
  • Office light switch: DNA found for Deb Jones as the major profile, DNA found for Freddie Alcantar as the minor profile

When the lab used the 2P formula the second time, that’s when it was able to determine the minor profile for Alcantar’s DNA in the bathroom door frame and office light switch. It was also able to find a minor profile for Deb Jones’ DNA on the kitchen counter.

He told the jury he agreed with Alcantar’s DNA result on the kitchen counter from the first round of tests, but couldn’t agree with the other two locations determined after the second round of testing. The jury asked this witness several questions, including what other methods could be used and if the DNA mixture is only two people. Dr. Reich responded saying,

“There are at least two other statistical methods that are appropriate for mixture interpretations. They aren’t necessarily better, but would have provided more information about the partial profiles.”

For the DNA mixture question, Dr. Reich said,

“DNA results give you the minimum number of contributors only.”

That means more than two people’s DNA could be included in the mixture, but the test results show the largest amounts of DNA found, which were Alcantar and Jones. Any other potential DNA from other people found in the samples weren’t significant enough to determine who it may be from.

The prosecution then had one more witness testify how the “2P” method is widely used in labs across the country. The witness mentioned labs in Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, California, and Florida that all use it.

Both teams will present their closing arguments before the jury Friday morning starting at 9:00. Judge Surbeck is giving them each an hour to do so. Then, the jury will get the case and have as long as it needs to deliberate.

History of Case

Alcantar Junior was arrested by U.S. Marshals in California in January of 2014 and charged with murder. He’s been in jail since then. According to police, Debra Jones, 59, of Fort Wayne, was found dead in her bathroom. At that time, Jones’ daughter, Erika Alcantar, told police that she couldn’t get in touch with her mother so she went to her home to check on her. Michael Joyner, spokesperson for the Fort Wayne Police Department, said that’s when Erika and her husband, Freddie, found Jones covered in blood.

The Allen County Coroner said Jones died from loss of blood due to a sharp force injury to the neck. According to the probable cause obtained at the time, Jones had stab wounds to her head and neck.

After interviewing the couple, police got consent to search their Fort Wayne home, according to court documents. Several samples of what appeared to be dried blood were taken from their home.

Police used cell phone records and surveillance video to confirm him as the suspect. His trial was originally supposed to start in late August, but was pushed back to Oct. 19.

The probable cause obtained in 2014 said Freddie and Erika are married. The defense team confirmed Monday that they are still married.

NewsChannel 15’s Sara Wagner will be in Allen Superior Court through the duration of this trial.

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