Daughter wired Crawford money, officer says

Although her body showed signs of multiple injuries, a medical examiner testified this morning there's no mystery about how Sarah Louise Crawford died.

"A gunshot wound is the cause of death," said medical examiner Deborah Kay, who conducted a portion of Crawford's autopsy. Kay detailed how a bullet entered the upper right side of Sarah Crawford's chest between her breast and armpit, traveled through her right lung, severed her spinal cord, and lodged in her back. Kay testified that Crawford might have died instantly or could have lived as long as an hour.

As the capital murder trial of Anthony Dale Crawford entered its third day, Kay was one of several forensic experts who took the stand to testify about the manner of death and about the information experts were able to glean from evidence collected at the crime scene and from Sarah Crawford's body.

In addition to documenting bruises and abrasions, which may or may not have been related to her disappearance and death, Kay said a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit was performed on the body. There was no visible sign of trauma to her vagina or rectum, Kay testified, though swabs later revealed the presence of sperm in Sarah's mouth, vagina, and in her anal area, though not necessarily inside it.

Forensic DNA expert Lisa Schiermeier Wood of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science testified that she conducted DNA analysis on the swabs taken from Sarah Crawford and from a buccal swab taken from Dale Crawford. The odds of the sperm in Sarah's vagina coming from someone other than Dale Crawford were "greater than one in six billion," Schiermeir Wood said. There was not enough DNA in her mouth or rectal area to determine a likely match.

Dale Crawford's DNA also matched saliva on cigarette butts found in the Quality Inn rooom where Sarah Crawford's body was found. The odds, again, of someone else matching were "greater than one in six billion."

In addition, Schiermeier Wood testified, Sarah Crawford's DNA was consistent with blood on a box found on the side of the road in Manassas on Friday, November 19, 2004– three days before her body was found– as well as with blood samples taken from the covers of the driver's seat and the back seat of the Maroon Hyundai Sonata that Dale Crawford was driving when he was arrested in Florida.

Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana questioned why certain other pieces of evidence were not tested at the lab– in particular, a wash cloth with a red stain found in the sink of the Quality Inn room and two pairs of blood-stained jeans. Schiermeier Wood testified that she tests only those pieces of evidence that are specifically requested by the prosecution or the defense.

Another question this morning was whether tiny puncture-like wounds on Sarah Crawford's hand were the result of a gun firing at close range. Medical Examiner Kay said the wounds did not appear to her to be "stippling" from a gun because there was some sign of yellowed bruising behind the holes, suggesting an older healing wound.

Trace evidence expert Joshua Kruger of the Virginia Department of Forensics testified that he found no signs of gunshot residue on Sarah Crawford's hands or on the seat covers he tested. But, he said, fabric can conceal the tiny particles created when a gun fires and there are cases when no such residue is present.

In addition to the forensic testimony, Charlottesville Police Sergeant Michael Gore testified about the tip-off that led to Crawford's arrest in Jacksonsville.

Using information from the Prince William County police, Gore reached Crawford's adult daughter in South Carolina. She admitted Crawford had contacted her asking for money, and she agreed to assist police by wiring him money and letting them know where Crawford would pick it up.

This afternoon, the prosecution continues building its case, and Zug says several witnesses who have already been called to testify may return to the stand.

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See previous dispatch on the case.