Jury weighing genetic-genealogy case of 1987 double murder of Saanich couple

Jury weighing genetic-genealogy case of 1987 double murder of Saanich couple
WatchA jury will deliberate for a second day in the Washington state trial of a truck driver accused of killing a young Canadian couple in 1987. William Talbott is charged in the historic murders of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook. As Mary Griffin reports, the families of the victims may have to wait several days for a verdict.

The 12 members of the jury in the Talbott murder trial started deliberations at nine this morning. Early this afternoon, they requested maps of eastern Washington, but the judge denied their request.

The wait continues for a verdict after a two-week long trial.  In his closing argument, deputy prosecuting attorney Matt Balduck reviewed evidence pointing to 56-year old William Talbott as the killer.

“Ladies and gentlemen, one question has been answered,” Balduck said, pointing to Talbott.

This case involves the use of genetic genealogy by comparing crime scene DNA to a public DNA ancestry site. Key to the case is preserving DNA at the original scene. Investigators obtained Talbott’s DNA when he discarded a paper cup last year and linked it to semen found on Tanya Van Cuylenborg’s body 32 years ago.

Also in 1987,  cigarettes found in the couple’s van matched those found in Jay Cook’s throat. And investigators determined twine used to strangle Cook came from the back of the couple’s van.

“It was the foresight of forensic scientists who had hoped that by preserving evidence one-day science could do things that couldn’t be done in their day,” Balduck said.

“The state has proven the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And that should be your verdict.”

But in her closing argument to the jury, defence attorney Rachel Forde disagreed that the state presented evidence that her client murdered anyone.

“That is simply not borne out in the facts of this case,” Forde said.

While the jury deliberates, the families are confident their wait for justice is almost over.


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