Forensic experts testifying in Washington County Circuit Court on Thursday linked Darrol Sands’ DNA and fingerprints to the scene of the 2008 murder of Carol Marie Brown, although DNA from other unidentified men was also found in her Hagerstown home.
Sands, 44, formerly of Hagerstown, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter in the April 19, 2008, death of Brown, 22, who was found strangled and stabbed in the bathtub of her Mitchell Avenue home.
Three days into the prosecution’s case, Sarah Fields, a DNA analyst with Bode Technology, testified that Sands’ DNA was found on vaginal swabs taken from the body, as well as a bed sheet in Brown’s bedroom.
However, a small bloodstain on the bathroom door contained a mixed DNA profile of a man named Michael Carson and “minor contributors,” Shields said.
Brown and Sands could be excluded from the bloodstain, but there was not enough DNA for a profile of the minor contributors, Shields testified. Police provided comparison DNA samples from Sands, Carson and Brown to test against the blood and bodily fluid evidence she analyzed, but not from other individuals, she testified.
Other evidence was tested by another Bode DNA analyst, Michelle Donohue, who testified that most of the materials she tested had Brown’s DNA profile, but some were mixed.
A small bloodstain on the bedroom wall had DNA from Brown and at least two other people, at least one of whom was male, Donohue testified. She could exclude Carson from the sample, but there was not enough material in the sample to exclude or not exclude Sands.
A pair of Brown’s underwear found by her dresser yielded her DNA and a male profile consistent with Carson’s, Donohue testified. Sands was excluded by that test, she testified.
Unidentified male DNA was also found mixed with Brown’s on a heart-shaped pillow, Donohue testified. The male component was “present in a very small amount,” and she could not determine if it came from blood, saliva or other bodily fluids.
Sands’ left palm print matched a print found on the bathtub, according to Alexander Mankevich, a fingerprint expert with the State Police Crime Laboratory. The only other prints in the house that could be analyzed for comparison belonged to Brown, he testified.
The trial is expected to run to Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. If convicted of first-degree murder, Sands could face life in prison.