BLOOMINGTON — Evidence collected from the home where Johnny Turnpaugh died and his van did not contain the DNA or fingerprints of murder suspect Nicholas Brooks, according to testimony Friday in Brooks’ trial.
Brooks, 27, of Normal is charged with killing Johnny Turnpaugh. The 24-year-old victim was found in his mobile home on Bloomington’s south side on July 15, 2009, about two weeks after he was seen leaving a friend’s home with Brooks.
State forensic scientist Jennifer MacRitchie said Brooks was excluded as a match for DNA found in blood stains in Turnpaugh’s van and home. Other items that did not contain the suspect’s genetic material include a “to-do” list police believe was written by Turnpaugh.
Some samples matched Turnpaugh’s DNA, and others had DNA identified as his and an unidentified source, she said.
Defense lawyer Brian McEldowney questioned MacRitchie about a cigarette butt with specks of blood found on a vanity. The scientist said the butt was tested for DNA but not the blood because “it was my understanding that the blood was likely to have come from the victim.”
That cigarette butt and a second cigarette butt showed a mixture of DNA from sources other than the victim and Brooks — one of them a female, said MacRitchie.
In comments to The Pantagraph after the testimony, McEldowney said he hoped the jury paid close attention to the testimony.
“What I hope the jury took away was there’s no trace of Nicholas Brooks at the crime scene, but unidentified DNA was found at the scene. I believe the cigarette found on the vanity was left by the killer and it only makes sense that it was left by the person who committed this attack,” said the defense lawyer.
A second lab specialist testified that Brooks’ fingerprints were not found on items he tested.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Workman argued that it is possible to avoid leaving one’s DNA and fingerprints by wearing gloves and by cleaning surfaces.
Brooks’ cousin Alfonso Davis testified Friday that he was told by Brooks and Brooks’ former girlfriend that evidence was cleaned up after the killing.
“He was saying he felt bad but he had to do what he had to do … he got into a fistfight, words were exchanged and things went to another level,” testified Alfonso Davis. A television and a DVD player were taken during the incident, he said.
Davis’ testimony that Brooks said he put Turnpaugh’s body under the mobile home is inconsistent with reports that show the victim in the hallway of his home.
In an interview recorded July 15 and shown to the jury Friday Brooks said he last saw Turnpaugh around July 3 and denied ever going to the victim’s home.
Prosecutors said they will wrap up their case Monday.