Mouser witness contradicts his own testimony

(Published: Thursday, November 25, 1999)

   First called as a witness for the prosecution, state criminalist John Yoshida testified for the defense Wednesday and told a Stanislaus County jury that a mark found on the leg of murder victim Genna Lyn Gamble's leg was not caused by the edge of the carpet in her stepfather's car.

   But Yoshida later testified that the mark on her leg very well may have been caused by the edge of the carpet in Douglas Mouser's white Honda.

   Why the contradiction?

   Yoshida's analysis seemed to depend upon which angle was depicted in what photo he was shown. He seemed to have no trouble agreeing with a defense contention that the mark on Gamble's leg was caused by the waistband of her shorts or underwear after examining several photographs shown to him by defense attorney Richard Herman.

   "I don't believe that mark is from the carpet," he said.

   Mouser is accused of strangling Gamble in October 1995 and then dumping the 14-year-old Modesto girl's nude body in a remote agricultural area near Waterford.

   Yoshida, assistant director of the state Department of Justice's Central Valley crime lab in French Camp, seemed to reach the opposite conclusion, however, during cross-examination by Chief Deputy District Attorney Birgit Fladager.

   Yoshida agreed with Fladager that photographs can be misleading, skew perspectives or make things seem bigger or smaller.

   After Fladager showed him a series of photographs, which showed the mark in a different perspective, Yoshida seemed to flip-flop when he concluded that the carpet edge did cause the mark.

   Yoshida still was undergoing questioning when Superior Court Judge Donald E. Shaver recessed the trial at noon for the Thanksgiving holiday. Yoshida is expected to return to the witness stand Tuesday morning, when the trial is scheduled to resume.

   Herman later told Shaver, outside the presence of the jury, that he is close to winding up his case. The defense lawyer said he still has not decided whether Mouser will testify in his own defense. But Herman told Fladager and co-prosecutor Joseph "Rick" Distaso, who are preparing a rebuttal case, that he expected to finish with his witnesses by the end of the day Wednesday.

   Earlier Wednesday, members of the jury listened to a tape-recorded interview conducted with Brian Hair, also known as Brian Anderson.

   During the 32-minute interview, Detective Hans Bosma of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department questioned Hair about his involvement with Gamble. Although he said he didn't remember her name, and told Bosma he didn't recognize her picture, he is mentioned in the dead girl's diary.

   In the diary, Gamble talks about meeting Hair at Camelot amusement park and later kissing him. She wrote in the dairy that Hair wanted to show her how to have sexual relations, but she refused.

   The defense wanted the jury to hear the interview because the first alibi Hair gave to Bosma did not hold up.