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Jurors in Jardin trial watch grisly video of 2006 crime scene

At Robert Jardin’s murder trial Wednesday afternoon, an FBI forensic examiner testified that hair samples from Jardin match some of those found in a slain Masaryktown couple’s home.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

At Robert Jardin’s murder trial Wednesday afternoon, an FBI forensic examiner testified that hair samples from Jardin match some of those found in a slain Masaryktown couple’s home.

BROOKSVILLE — The macabre video tour started outside the beige stucco house, with a forensic specialist from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office leading jurors through the footage.

The scene slowly moved inside, showing jurors a residence that had nearly been turned upside down — empty shelves and closets, drawers pulled out of dressers and dumped onto the floor, bread slices and an open mayonnaise jar left on the kitchen counter.

Then, suddenly, the camera zoomed in on a man lying facedown on the dark-colored carpet with a pool of blood around his head. In the next scene, there was a woman in blood-soaked red pajamas propped in between a bed and a wall.

With this grisly exposure Wednesday, jurors in the murder case of Robert Jardin got their first chance to view the crime scene that awaited authorities when they arrived at the home of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma in late October 2006.

The state has charged Jardin, 35, with two counts of first-degree murder, armed burglary and grand theft in the stabbing deaths of the Masaryktown couple. Though authorities have identified only Jardin publicly, court affidavits and hundreds of pages of documents reveal that other suspects remain at large in the deaths.

Jardin's trial started Monday and is expected to last about a week. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

Prosecutor Pete Magrino made a methodical eight-hour presentation to jurors Wednesday, spending much of the day detailing the crime scene at the DePalmas' home in rural southern Hernando County.

Magrino started off with the Sheriff Office's nearly 20-minute video of the crime scene, the public's first look inside the house at 333 Korbus Lane.

It was like something from a horror film.

The video showed Patrick DePalma, 84, sprawled across the carpet of a hallway that led to a pair of bedrooms. In one was the body of Evelyn DePalma, 79, leaning against a bed in blood-soaked pajamas.

The camera held still on her lifeless body and beaten and bruised face for about 30 seconds. Watching the footage from one of the courtroom benches, Kyle DePalma, one of the couple's grandsons, turned to look away.

The rest of the house was a mess, with blood stains on the carpet, bedsheets and blankets strewn all over the floors, and boxes and drawers left open throughout the house, as if someone had been looking for something. In the kitchen, a pile of CDs filled one sink and a CD holder was left in the other.

Authorities have said that at least five items were stolen from the home: a Sanyo VCR, a Bissell vacuum, an RCA stereo, a wooden knife block with its knives and a rifle.

After the video was shown, testimony was much more technical and exhaustive. At one point during the afternoon, Circuit Judge Jack Springstead even called on a juror to make sure he was paying attention.

"I was just checking," Springstead said to the juror. "You haven't raised your head in a while."

Other witnesses summoned to testify Wednesday included several detectives and forensic specialists from the Sheriff's Office; a forensic examiner from the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Va., who told jurors that hair samples from Jardin matched some of those found in the DePalmas' home, and Jardin's former employer at a local pawn shop, Jewels-N-Time.

Also called to the witness stand was James Beam, a friend of Jardin's who was allowing him to live on his property at the time of the arrest in July 2008.

Magrino focused his questioning of Beam on the Bissell vacuum that detectives found in Jardin's motor home. It was the vacuum that had been removed from the DePalmas' home.

But Beam struggled to remember specific dates and details about how the vacuum got into the house.

"I can't recall," he testified. "A lot went on for me back then."

Later, after he completed his testimony, Beam said he was relieved to be done with the case. He said he didn't plan to return to the courtroom but wished his old friend well.

"I got nothing derogatory to say about the guy," Beam said, walking out of the courthouse. "He was always good to me and my family."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Jurors in Jardin trial watch grisly video of 2006 crime scene 08/25/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 8:44pm]
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