VIRGINIA (AP) -- A former Subway sandwich shop clerk identified Donald Blom on Friday as the man who came into her store the night that Katie Poirier disappeared from the neighboring convenience store where Poirier worked alone.
Kathy Hanek pointed to Blom in the St. Louis County courtroom. She said a black Ford pickup, similar to one that Blom owned, was at the scene the night of May 26, 1999.
Blom, 51, of Richfield, is accused of kidnapping Poirier from DJ's Expressway last year, killing her and burning her body at his nearby vacation property. He initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted.
Hanek, of Moose Lake, testified that Blom, who appeared intoxicated, first entered the Subway store just after 10 p.m., which was closing time. After being told the Subway shop was closed, he left, she said.
(A security surveillance camera at DJ's recorded Poirier being forced out of the store at 11:38 p.m.)
But Hanek said she saw him again outside around 10:30 p.m. as she was going home. Blom got into his pickup truck and left the parking lot just ahead of Hanek.
Hanek said she followed his weaving truck about two miles into Moose Lake and clearly remembers most of his license plate number.
She testified it was 557 --Y.
''I have a habit of looking at plates,'' Hanek testified, referring to her days as a convenience store employee. Hanek was shown the pickup again during the investigation and recalled it clearly. ''I knew that was the same pickup I saw that evening.''
She also picked Blom out of a police lineup.
''I recognized the individual that I saw that night driving the black pickup truck,'' she testified.
Defense attorney Rodney Brodin tried to discredit Hanek's testimony, asking her about the truck's color, the tailgate and the suspect's appearance. Under cross-examination, she said the truck was possibly black, dark blue or dark green.
Hanek admitted giving police information early in the investigation that was inconsistent with her description of Blom and his pickup. She said that she first thought the pickup may have had an ''airgate'' instead of a solid tailgate as Blom's truck does. She said she also thought the pickup was a four-wheel drive, which Blom's truck is not.
There were also discrepancies in her account of the height and age of the suspect.
Also testifying Friday was Darell Brown, a janitor with Blom at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis, and the man who tipped police to Blom's possible involvement in the kidnapping.
Brown testified that Blom sometimes wore a New York Yankees jersey and had stopped driving his truck after the heavily publicized abduction. The videotape showed the man in the store wearing a Yankees jersey.
''He had dyed his hair and cut his hair and had changed his whole entire appearance,'' Brown testified.
Brown said that he grew suspicious of Blom, whom he knew as Don Hutchinson, after seeing the composite sketch of the suspect wearing a Yankees jersey.
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