Jurors hear DNA evidence in Mark Norwood trial Thursday

TRAVIS COUNTY - Jurors will hear day three of testimony in the murder trial for Mark Norwood, the man accused of beating Debra Baker to death in her bed in 1988.

Thursday, DNA analysis testified that tissue from a hair from the crime scene inside Baker's home partially matched Mark Norwood's DNA.

Thursday, Melissa Valadez, who works for the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Austin, testified. She examined the evidence from the Baker case in 2005. She works as a forensic analyst, which includes hair analysis. 

In her testimony she described analyzing two hairs from Baker's bed. By visual analysis, one matched Baker's pubic hair, the other a male Caucasian hair. 

The mystery hair looked to have a piece of tissue attached, which they sent to the lab to be tested for DNA. 

She also testified that another hair taken from a blue towel in Baker's bathroom, and a hair from the pink bed sheets on Baker's bed looked to belong to a Caucasian male. 

We also heard from Theresa Francis, who used to work for DPS analyzing DNA. Of the three hairs, she said they were able to collect partial DNA from one of them. 

Forensic analysts with DPS said tested the DNA in 2005, but were only able to look at 4 out of the 16 DNA matching points.

Since DNA testing has become more advanced, they've now been able to match 10 of the 16 DNA points to that of Mark Norwood.

Prosecutor Gary Cobb says that DNA science is crucial. 

"That tiny thing is more important that some of the big things such as eye witness testimony, these are the things we've seen big issues with, DNA evidence has not been, it's pretty incontrovertible," said Cobb.

Mark Norwood's ex wife, Judy Norwood, also testified Thursday.


She was visibly hesitant to testify. She said that Mark Norwood had a habit of leaving their house late at night, saying he was going on a walk. The next morning she would find new furniture like tables, beds, couches, and household items.

Judy Norwood also testified that her ex husband sent her a note, through their son, telling her not to testify because quote "things could get pretty nasty". 

Judy Norwood held Debra Baker's sister's hand on the way out of the courtroom. 

As Norwood's family left the courtroom Thursday they said it was a day of lies.


We plan to hear the defense's case in the coming days. 

We also heard a recorded audio interview between Austin Police Cold Case investigators and Mark Norwood back in 2011. They visited his home in Bastrop, wanting to ask him questions, and get a sample of his DNA. They showed him some photos, including one of Debra Baker, but Norwood said he didn't know her. 

On Wednesday, jurors heard from several people who used to live in the Brentwood neighborhood where Norwood and Baker lived at the time. Each of those who testified had their home broken into.

One of the families who lived there saw their belongings at Norwood's garage sale. Police also found belongings from other families there as well.

A former evidence analyst with the Department of Public Safety also spoke. She worked on Baker's case. She showed bloody bed sheets and a towel from Baker's home. She said they were able to collect some hairs from both things.

Thursday, jurors can expect to hear more testimony discussing DNA evidence in the case.

Follow reporter Christy Millweard for updates from the courtroom all day:

 

 


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