By Peter Laird, MD
The prosecution put forth one of their most important witnesses testifying to the findings of an exogenous (an external source) of a chlorinating agent in several of the patients tested. Dr. Mark Sochaski from the Hammer Institute conducted these tests at the request of the CDC investigators. Previous results of 3-chlorotyrosine levels found in dialysis patients from naturally processes and those associated specifically with dialysis (here) were exceeded by 70 times that expected in one of the samples tested. The CDC originally approached Dr. Sochaski to develop an assay for bleach exposure after since none existed. This is the first study of it's kind and and the CDC considers it a landmark study.
"We sampled each of the samples….and then we carried through the procedure," said Sochaski.
In his research, Sochaski noted high levels of chlorine in the patients' bloodstreams.
"There are lots of tests done on rats that don't relate to humans at all, is that fair to say?" said Deaton.
"I would have to see what tests," said Sochaski.
The defendant stated he hasn't ever seen a test done on rats that doesn't relate to humans. Deaton asked Sochaski how the tests could be related because the rats were exposed to gaseous chlorine and the victims were allegedly injected with chlorine.
"You can't say how much chlorine these patients actually got?" said Deaton.
"That would be difficult to say," said Sochaski.
"And, you can't say that the chlorine came from bleach or from water, can you?" said Deaton.
The witness stated that the test solely represents the amount of chlorine present in the blood, not the source. Deaton questioned Sochaski about other health conditions that make affect the level of chlorine present, to which the witness testified his testing would not be able to reveal.
The CDC also presented evidence of chlorinating agents found on blood tubing and on two three cc syringes allegedly found in a sharps box near the patients in question. However, none of the blood lines and syringes has a direct physical link to the defendant with no fingerprints on any of these items attributable to Kimberly Saenz. Nor is their a direct link to the patients since the labels have been torn off according to the defense attorney. The Sochaski report likewise cannot distinguish the source of the elevated levels of 3-chlorotyrosine from bleach or from chloramines in the public water system. Dr. Sochaski can only testify that there was exposure to some sort of chlorinating agent, but not the actual source. Another stumbling block for this evidence is that some of the alleged victims tested negative for elevated 3-cholortyrosine and several had no viable samples available for testing.
The prosecution's entire case in many ways depends on the reliability of the elderly patients who stated that they allegedly saw Kimberly Saenz inject bleach into the saline lines of these two patients. However, the fact that the syringes tested in today's testimony were first examined by DaVita personal who likewise waited eight hours to notify the police renders the speculation of evidence tampering a realistic consideration as the defense continuously alludes. Since this is a capital murder case, the jury may find the lack of a direct tie to the defendant a stumbling block to convict a person that may be sent to death row.
Having any doubts about the evidence by law must render a not guilty verdict by virtue of reasonable doubt and I am sure this consequence will rest heavily on the jury's conscience as they deliberate. How the jury evaluates this evidence and testimony will not be known until they actually render their verdict. I do not envy their duty.