Photographer Groffy’s Actions and Testimony – Pt Two

Originally posted at Tick Tock Manitowoc on Reddit by MMonroe54

Part Two: Cross Examination

On Cross examination, Buting asks Groffy if he was called in on a Sunday. He said he was, by his supervisor:

A. She had conveyed to me that they had received a vehicle at the laboratory for processing. And she was wondering if I could come in and assist and do the photography on the vehicle.

She doesn’t say he’ll be doing swabs. Does “assist” mean he expected to be taking presumptive tests? I wish Buting had asked him that.

And now we get to one of the biggest mysteries of the RAV. Much was made of how locked up it was when PS found it. And of how it was never opened at ASY. It was still locked when it was transported in a closed trailer. So how in the name of all that’s holy did the RAV get unlocked by the time Groffy arrived to photograph it on Sunday morning around 10 a.m.? Who unlocked it? And how? Who else was in the garage that morning besides Groffy, Stahlke, and Harrington?

Because he testifies that he found the driver’s door unlocked:

Q. Okay. And when you arrived, it was parked in the garage that was displayed in that first photograph.
A. That’s correct.
Q. And when you approached, the — were the doors standing open or were they closed?
A. The doors to the vehicle, sir?
Q. Yes.
A. The doors to the vehicle were closed.
Q. Okay. Did you have gloves on as you approached the vehicle?
A. As I approached the vehicle?
Q. Yes.
A. Not as I approached the vehicle, no. There’s a large area around the vehicle.
Q. Okay. At some point you touched portions of the vehicle, though, right?
A. That is correct, I did.
Q. And before you did that, you put gloves on?
A. I put a laboratory coat on and gloves, that’s correct, sir.
Q. Okay. And did you, with your gloved hands, try the driver’s door handle?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. It was locked or unlocked?
A. The driver’s door was unlocked when I got there.
Q. Okay. The other doors were locked?
A. Yes, the other doors were locked.
Q. And that would be actually four more doors, correct, including the rear?
A. That’s correct, four doors.
Q. Now, if I understand, what you did was, by opening the driver’s side door, you were able to sort of reach over and, with your gloves, unlock the front passenger side door first, right?
A. That’s correct, I did that.
Q. And then from that location, that position on either side, front and passenger, you were able to easily reach around and unlock the rear driver and passenger side doors.
A. That’s correct, I unlocked those doors.
Q. And then you were able to open all four of those doors, wide open, for taking pictures and what not?
A. That is absolutely correct.

Even though Groffy was there “to assist”, he also had help, from one Steve Harrington, also a Crime lab tech. But Harrington did not do the presumptive test, Groffy did.

Further Cross Examination by Buting:

A. That’s correct, Steve was also there at that time.
Q. He’s another forensic scientist with the Crime Lab?
A. He is currently retired.
Q. Okay. But was he employed then?
A. At that time he was employed, yes, sir.
Q. Okay. And the two of you then did this presumptive test for blood?
A. That is not correct. I did the presumptive test for the blood.
Q. Okay. Was that a phenolphthalein test or was that some other test?
A. That is what we called a phenolphthalein test.
Q. Okay. So is it specific for human and animal, or just any kind of blood?
A. I do not have that knowledge, sir

So, Groffy is swabbing blood stains, using phenolphthalein, and doesn’t know what kind of blood it tests for? As a scientist who normally does these things, wouldn’t he know that?

Q. Okay. But, you did get a positive on the ignition stain and that larger area that you mentioned over in the cargo area, kind of on the passenger side?
A. That’s correct I had a positive test for those two areas.
Q. Those are the only two areas that you tested, though?
A. That is correct.
Q. Did you do any other tests that day or take any other pictures?
A. My activities were limited to photographing the exterior portions of the RAV4. And then the interior portions that we could get photographs of without actually having to go inside the vehicle and get those pictures before other analysts could have a chance at processing the vehicle.
Q. Okay. And then a decision was made with you and your supervisor, Lucy Meier, not to process the Toyota any more that day and that you would instead wait until morning when the forensic DNA analyst and other types of people would be normally working; is that right?
A. That is correct.
Q. Okay. Could you just tell us which ones, if any, were taken on the 6th?
A. That would be State’s Exhibit 289, 290, 292, and 293, of the ones that I have.
Q. Okay. So you don’t know whether, for instance, there was any cardboard boxes, or other soda bottles, or clothing items, or anything like that found in the vehicle?
A. If I saw them, I don’t recall it.
Q. And would you have — would you have been asked to take photographs of any of those kinds of items before they had been removed or touched in anyway?
A. I may or may not have been, it would have been at the discretion of the analyst processing the vehicle whether or not they wanted that photographed.
Q. Okay. And to your recollection today, do you recall seeing any other pictures that you may have, that you didn’t bring with you today, that would show those items?
A. I have contact sheets of all the photographs that I took of the vehicle, but I would have to look at those.
Q. All right. Just a couple more things. There’s three new exhibits that I have given you; would you take a look at those. Oh, by the way, just so we’re clear, all of the other photographs that we didn’t discuss as having been taken on November 6; were those taken on November 8th?
A. They would have been taken on November 7th and 8th.
Q. Okay. Two days.
A. Yes.

And now we get to the question of when the RAV was fingerprinted and if it was dusty before fingerprint powder was applied. There are photos of the RAV that appear to show fingerprint powder which have been discussed on this sub previously.

Q. I notice it looks kind of dusty; is that because it had already been fingerprinted by the fingerprint people?
A. No, this is the condition that we received the vehicle in. It is — One of my duties is to photographically document this before it is processed. So that would have been the condition that the RAV4 was received at the laboratory.

It’s interesting that he says that about the fingerprints because he does not say if he photographed the bloodstains before he did the presumptive tests….and, peculiarly, no one asks him that — that I have read, anyway.

Q. Are you entirely sure about that? Let me just direct your attention to the far left side there, above the RAV4. Do you see, isn’t that some sort of a sticker, oblong white sticker up there?
A. Yes, that appears to be one of the scales that we used for denoting where fingerprints are.
Q. Okay. So, it appears, then, that perhaps the fingerprint people had already been through here, or at least looked at some of the vehicles?
A. When this particular photograph was taken, yes.
Q. Okay. So that looks — Is that the sort of thing that people — the fingerprint people put on when they find what they think might be a usable or a latent print, fingerprint or palm print?
A. They usually use those stickers to identify areas that they want us to photograph.
Q. Okay. Do you know if you took a closer up picture of that particular area?
A. I did take some photographs of fingerprints that were on the RAV4, at the direction of forensic scientist, Michael Riddle. So those negatives would probably be in his possession.
Q. Okay. And on the wheel cover, this — do you see some markings that almost look like fingers, there and there, that is, on the upper surface of that wheel cover of the RAV4?
A. One of reasons I took a photograph similar to that before it was dusted for fingerprints was because I did observe what looked like to be two handprints on that wheel cover.
Q. Okay. And then a little bit lower on that, there also appears to be some other sort of markings. I don’t know if you can describe what those are at all. Do those appear to be handprints to you as well or no? A. That I don’t know, sir.
Q. Okay. But you don’t believe — I mean, you believe this is the way it actually looked without adding any kind of fingerprint dust to it?
A. That is correct, sir.
Q. That being the wheel cover, right?
A. That is correct.
Q. Okay. Did you happen to notice, as you were taking photographs of this portion of the cargo door where the door handle is and the key goes in, it looks like on this prior photograph I don’t see that little scale you mentioned?
A. It doesn’t appear to be in that photograph, no, sir.
Q. Okay. Did you happen to notice though, as you were taking those close up photos of the negatives that you said you gave to Mr. Riddle; did you happen to notice whether there was anything that appeared to be a blood stain in that area?
A. I don’t recall.
Q. Okay. Do you recall Mr. Riddle directing your attention to anything, saying, hey, let’s take a picture of this, this looks like this might be a blood stain of some sort or a dark reddish type stain?
A. I don’t recall that conversation. No, I don’t.