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DNA reports connect Courtney Pieters’ to Mortimer Saunders

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One out of two DNA analysis reports have matched the semen found on little Courtney Pieters’ T-shirt to her alleged murderer Mortimer Saunders, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

Saunders is accused of the premeditated murder and rape of the toddler but has denied that the murder was planned or that he had sex with her while she was alive.

In his plea explanation, the 40-year-old said that he had used his fingers to penetrate her after her death in May 2017. He indicated that he did place his penis on her body and around her vagina but did not penetrate her with it.

It was previously reported that Saunders confessed to giving Courtney ant poison, before choking and beating the toddler.

He said that he killed Courtney because of “ill-feelings” between himself and Courtney’s mother, Juanita. On Thursday, forensic analyst Lukhanyo Tiya gave expert evidence on the two DNA reports.

The first DNA analysis report, compiled in June 2017, found Saunders’ DNA to be a perfect match to the semen sample found on the three-year-old’s T-shirt.

‘We can say there was no DNA result’

Tiya explained that the forensic laboratory had analysed the DNA on 16 regions/loci, in order to build a DNA profile.

In order for there to be a match, the reference sample given by Saunders would have to match the semen sample at all 16 loci.

“Nowhere is there a mismatch. It was a full profile match,” Tiya said.

The second report, compiled in May 2018, however, revealed negative results.

“Ultimately, we could not find a profile that matches an individual. No DNA was found on the [semen] sample, so we can say there was no DNA result,” Tiya testified.

“No DNA was obtained from the deceased’s T-shirt, panties and labia swab. There was not enough DNA found on her jeans and the vaginal vault swab (vaginal smear) matches the DNA of the deceased.”

(Warning: Sensitive details)

Male DNA was found on the little girl’s vaginal swab, but the sample was too small to visualise a full DNA profile.

Saunders’ attorney Mornay Calitz took issue when Tiya testified that the second swab of Pieters’ right thigh had tested positive for male DNA, as the result had not been disclosed to the defence.

Presumptive test for semen

After a short recess to consult with the State, Calitz opted to deal with the issue in cross-examination.

Tiya also explained the measures adopted to prevent contamination of the DNA samples.

“We have negative and positive controls designed to pick up contaminants. Aseptic techniques should also be employed – wearing protective gear,” Tiya said.

During cross-examination, Calitz questioned Tiya on the presumptive test for semen. A presumptive test is used to eliminate non-bodily fluids from the sample.

Tiya explained that the test entails the reagent Brentamine, that reacts with an enzyme found in semen and will result in a purple colour. It is also known as an AP test.

Calitz then asked whether there was a presumptive test for “pre-cum” (pre-ejaculate).

Tiya said that there was no presumptive test for pre-ejaculate, as it did not contain sperm cells.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

[source: News24]
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