DNA evidence questioned during Leland Hust trial
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Evidence that could make or break the case against Leland Hust took center stage in a Valencia County courtroom.
The DNA, which is what led to police to arresting Hust for the murder of 6-year-old Ariana ‘Jade’ Romeo, was heavily scrutinized by the defense Tuesday.
A state forensic scientist testified about the DNA that was found in Ariana’s room, which is where her body was located. Most of it was Ariana’s blood, but investigators also found multiple male DNA samples.
The DNA analyst explained they could rule out all other males in the house except for Hust, and one other unidentified male.
The defense highlighted some problems with DNA transfer, and how DNA can travel from items that had been moved.
They also pointed out what was not found at the scene.
"One of the reasons you look for semen is that it kind of does raise a red flag, because it tells you more or less how a person’s DNA got from their body to the place where you found it?" the defense asked New Mexico forensic scientist Eve Tokumaru, who answered, "Yes."
Later, a special victims investigator for Rio Rancho police testified that in child rape cases, there is often no semen found because perpetrators often use their hands to commit the sexual abuse.
Prosecutors also played Hust’s Safe House interviews from the day Ariana was found dead. In the interview, Hust talked about how his father was incarcerated, his grandmother died of an overdose, his social anxiety and Ariana.
"I didn’t hear nothin’. And I’m just thinking – if I just stayed up I probably could’ve helped her," Hust said.
The interrogation interviews are expected to be played in court Friday.