DNA evidence: Alleged murderer Lazarus a 1 in 402 quadrillion match

 Veteran LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, 49, appears at the Criminal Justice Center for her arraignment on murder charges June 9, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Veteran LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, 49, appears at the Criminal Justice Center for her arraignment on murder charges June 9, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images

According to LAPD criminalist Jennifer Francis, DNA taken from the mouth of Stephanie Lazarus so closely matched saliva from a bite mark on her alleged victim, her ex-boyfriend's wife, that no one else on Earth could have produced the same result.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Michael Nunez, Francis said the genetic profile of Lazarus and the bite mark would be expected to be found in one in 402 quadrillion individuals.

Noting that the population of Earth is about 7 billion, Nunez said the statistic would mean on 100 million Earths the profile could not be duplicated.

"On our Earth would you expect to find another individual with the profile of Stephanie Lazarus and Exhibit 30 [the bite)]?" Nunez asked.

"No," said Francis.

As part of the initial investigation into Sherri Rasmussen’s murder 26 years ago, investigators routinely collected DNA samples from a bite mark on the dead woman’s left arm, who was shot to death at her Van Nuys home. Rasmussen had married Lazarus' ex-boyfriend John Ruetten just four months before.

Technology at the time failed to do much with the DNA, and the case was shelved.

However, the once-cold case was warmed up, a detective was assigned to follow Lazarus — now a decorated member of the LAPD's art-theft department. The detective retrieved a straw she’d tossed away outside a Costco store and brought it back for DNA testing. That was when the crime lab found they had a match.

Lazarus' attorney said in opening statements on Monday that the DNA from the bite mark wasn’t stored correctly and can’t be trusted.

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