Since his arrest last year, Franklin A. Smith has maintained that someone else killed Eileen Mangold in September 1989. That someone is likely Dale Carpenter, he argues.
Carpenter frequented the store from which Mangold was abducted, and he lived in the Riverview neighborhood where Mangold's car was found, Smith's attorneys argued during his trial this week.
He also looked like a composite sketch drawn from witness statements right after the killing, they said, and he gave investigators a fake name and remained a suspect for years.
So why isn't Carpenter sitting at the defense table?
His semen wasn't found on the victim's blouse. The semen matched Smith's DNA profile, a profile that only one in 57-trillion people would possess, experts said.
Today, 12 jurors will begin deciding Smith's fate, much of which will come down to how credible they find DNA testing. A conviction on first-degree murder could lead Smith, 53, to death row.
Mangold, 50, was working the evening of Sept. 19, 1989, as a cashier at the now-defunct Kangaroo Fuel Stop on U.S. 301. Witnesses saw Mangold's killer force her into a station wagon and drive off with her in the passenger seat.
Her car was discovered five hours later at Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Her badly beaten body was found eight hours later.
Investigators found fingerprints on the car, but could not link them to anyone. Last year, a fingerprint expert ran some of the prints again, and came up with a hit. A partial print taken from the hood of the car matched Smith, who had been arrested and fingerprinted in unrelated cases before the killing.
Investigators questioned Smith, who told them he never knew Mangold and never had sex with her. When asked, he provided a blood sample. Authorities arrested Smith in December after DNA tests came back as a match to the semen found on the blouse.
Smith's two attorneys attacked the DNA tests on several fronts. They disputed the astronomical odds of the semen belonging only to Smith. They also pointed out flaws in the way the samples and blouse were labeled and handled, suggesting that the investigators or the lab may have mixed up or somehow contaminated the tests.
They questioned a witness about a case in Great Britain where a defendant, originally arrested on the strength of DNA tests, was let go when a more comprehensive test proved he could not have been the perpetrator.