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Murdered girl’s blood found in motel room

Crime: Prosecution wraps up beating case; Rodriguez defense to begin today

Posted: June 28, 2010 10:22 p.m.
Updated: June 29, 2010 4:55 a.m.

SAN FERNANDO — Prosecutors wrapped up their case against accused murderer Antonio Rodriguez on Monday with crime analysts saying they found blood belonging to the murdered girl, Desarie Elizabeth Saravia, and her brother inside a blood-splattered Van Nuys motel room.

Rodriguez, 29, is accused of beating 5-year-old Desarie Saravia to death six years ago in the women’s bathroom at Hasley Canyon Park in Castaic. The girl’s mother was his girlfriend.

Wearing black rectangular glasses and the same black jacket he’s worn throughout the trial, a powder blue collared shirt with a matching tie patterned with diamonds, Rodriguez appeared relaxed and whispered frequently over the shoulder of his lawyer, Jack R. Stone, often smiling.

The defense is expected to begin its case today.

On Nov. 12, 2004, Desarie Saravia was pronounced dead at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital after she was found naked on the front lawn of a home on Sturbridge Drive in Castaic with numerous bruises and burns to her body.

Cindy Carroll, a senior criminalist who works in the Scientific Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, described for jurors in San Fernando Superior Court the work she does as a crime scene investigator, specifically the work she did gathering evidence the day after Saravia died.

She said she collected blood from four places of splatter found inside a motel on Sepulveda Boulevard north of Victory Boulevard.

“I noticed on a round table in the corner of the motel room a drug tourniquet, a spoon with a dark residue, a lighter ... a bag of syringes on the floor and a can of fibrous material — something commonly seen as used with the drug heroin,” Carroll said.

In earlier testimony Wednesday, the jury heard homicide detectives questioning Rodriguez, in part, about his drug habits during an interview recorded shortly after Desarie’s death.

Juli Watkins, a senior criminalist who told the court she analyzed the blood samples collected by her CSI co-worker Carroll, said samples of blood splatter found near a table containing drug paraphernalia, on the window blinds and on a lamp shade by the table, were identified through DNA analysis as the blood of the accused man.

Desarie’s blood was found on the other side of the same motel room, in a corner by a closet.

Blood identified by Watkins as that of Desarie’s brother, Brian, was found on an interior wall in the middle of the room.

When prosecutor Mary Sedgwick asked Watkins to explain what the chances are that the blood of either sibling could have belonged to someone else, Watkins said the chances are at least one in a quadrillion.

“The population of the world is 7 billion, so it’s beyond the population of the world,” she said.

Watkins said she was able to develop a “partial profile” from other blood samples collected from the room, including: Desarie as a “possible contributor” to five of the 13 samples collected, and her brother as possibly contributing to four of the 13.

The little girl was identified by Watkins as “contributor” to blood found in a corner of the room by one of two beds, in addition to the blood found by the closet.

Watkins said she also found blood on a hair-straightening iron that had been seized by homicide detectives from the car driven by Rodriguez.

She tested samples taken from five spots on the iron.

Brian and Desarie were “positive contributors” to the blood sample mix found on the bottom of the iron’s handle.
Desarie was found to be the  major contributor of blood found on the top part of the iron’s handle with, again, a one-in-quadrillion chance that her DNA profile found there belonged to someone else.

Her brother’s blood was found on the iron’s heating clamp, prompting Watkins to identify him as the “major donor” of blood to the sample taken from the clamp.

No semen was found on any of the swabs taken for DNA analysis from Desarie’s body, the court heard.

Debby Saravia, mother of Desarie and Brian, is also in custody and is scheduled to be tried separately in her daughter’s death.

Debby Saravia and her boyfriend, Rodriguez, were bouncing around between the homes of friends and relatives at the time of Desarie’s death. Debby Saravia was reportedly cleaning a home on Sturbridge near Hasley Canyon Park the day Desarie died.


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