Patrick Springer, Published September 12 2013
Bagola's palm print found on bloody computer in home where children found slain
But the FBI fingerprint examiner who made the match testified Thursday in Bagola’s trial that she cannot determine when the print was left – before or after a “reddish-brown” residue was deposited on the computer tower.
“So you have no idea which came first, that is correct?” defense lawyer Janice Miner asked the FBI finger print examiner, Shannon Prince, during cross-examination.
“Correct,” Prince said.
Bagola, 20, is charged in U.S. District Court with the murders of Destiny Shaw, 9, and her 6-year-old brother, Travis DuBois Jr. The children were found May 21, 2011, in a bedroom of their home in St. Michael. Both were stabbed to death.
Bagola is a nephew of the children’s mother, Mena Shaw, and once had lived with the family for several weeks in the DuBois home, and sometimes babysat for the children, whom he considered his cousins.
Prince was unable to recover fingerprints from knives recovered from the DuBois home, or other items including a television set, a piece of paper found with one of the knives, or stained segments of drywall removed from the bedroom.
In other prosecution testimony Thursday, jurors saw a video-recorded jailhouse meeting between Bagola and two FBI agents that took place on July 21, 2011.
Bagola asked to meet with the FBI two days after he was indicted for the children’s murders.
At no point in the meeting, which lasted 70 or 75 minutes, did Bagola try to recant or alter his earlier statements, including admissions that he killed both children and raped the girl, said Brian Cima, FBI special agent.
Instead, Bagola seemed concerned about how long his prison sentence would run, how soon his trial would take place, and therefore when he might be sent to prison.
“What’s the most you could get for it?” Bagola asked, referring to his possible prison sentence.
“You could get life,” Cima said.
The defendant, who was being held in the Grand Forks County jail, then asked if a lighter sentence could result from a plea bargain.
“I can’t get into any deals or anything like that,” Cima said, advising Bagola to ask his lawyer about that.
Bagola said his girlfriend on the Spirit Lake reservation was concerned he could be shot, and went on to say he had once been shot, and stabbed, but did not elaborate.
He also said he had tried to commit suicide by cutting himself during the previous year.
“Don’t kill yourself,” Cima said. “Don’t do it.”
Two other forensic scientists also testified Thursday for the prosecution: a hair and fiber analyst and a DNA expert.
A fiber analysis concluded that any of three knives could have caused the boy’s stab wounds, but only a small kitchen knife correlated to wounds in clothing worn by his sister.
In a search of the DuBois home and surroundings after the children’s bodies were found, FBI agents seized two knives with what appeared to be blood on them, and a third knife that didn’t appear obviously connected to the slayings.
Sandra Koch performed hair and fiber analysis at the FBI lab on clothing and other items from the scene, including the television set and computer tower from the bedroom where the bodies were found.
Hairs found on the TV and computer unit matched samples from Destiny, Koch said. The hairs on the computer were broken off, with sheared roots, and therefore were not naturally shed, she said.
On a small kitchen knife, which appeared to have blood on the blade when found by the FBI, hair had similarities to a known sample from the boy, but was not a conclusive match, Koch said.
“I couldn’t make a full conclusion,” she said, adding that it was sent for DNA analysis.
Koch said none of the hair and fiber analyses linked items, including the children’s clothing, to their father, Travis DuBois Sr., initially the suspected killer.
Tiffany Smith, who directs a DNA analysis lab for the FBI, said blood from Travis DuBois Jr., covered five sides of the computer tower. He also was the source of a hair found on the computer.
Blood found on the sixth side of the computer, the front, was a mixture, mostly consisting of the boy’s blood, and not matching either Bagola or Travis DuBois Sr.
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Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522