VIRGINIA, Minn. (AP) -- A burned molar and jaw fragment found in a fire pit on Donald Blom's Moose Lake vacation property belonged to Katie Poirier, a forensic dental expert testified.
Blom, 51, of Richfield, is on trial on charges of kidnapping and killing Poirier, 19, of Barnum, in May 1999.
On the stand Wednesday, Dr. Ann Norrlander of Minneapolis compared Poirier's dental X-rays with X-rays Norrlander took of the molar and jaw fragment.
Superimposing one X-ray on the other through the use of a computer projector, Norrlander noted many similarities in the shape and size of the tooth and its roots. She also noted similarities in the angle and size of adjacent tooth sockets.
"I believe to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the bone fragment and tooth discovered belonged to Ms. Poirier," Norrlander testified in answer to a question from prosecutor Thomas Pertler.
Her testimony was the strongest evidence the prosecution had publicly offered so far that the remains came from Poirier.
Norrlander said she initially had excluded Poirier as the victim because abnormalities in the tooth and its roots made her think it came from the lower right jaw instead of the lower left. This caused her to compare the tooth to the wrong dental X-ray, she said.
She said that after re-examining the X-rays and consulting with other experts, she decided the burnt molar was, in dental parlance, tooth 18, not tooth 30. When she compared it to tooth 18 in Poirier's 1994 X-rays, she concluded that it was a "possible" match.
Norrlander explained to the jury that while she believes the tooth was Poirier's, the fragments didn't represent enough evidence to offer the number of comparisons necessary to meet her profession's standard for "positive identification."
Defense attorneys Rodney Brodin and Joanne Piper-Maurer have said their own expert witness will testify that X-rays of the burnt molar show characteristics inconsistent with tooth 18 in Poirier's X-rays.
Judge Gary Pagliaccetti recessed the trial early, before the defense could begin cross-examining Norrlander. He told jurors he had to attend to other matters. He planned to reconvene an hour later than usual Thursday.
In another development Wednesday, prosecutors filed a report of a police interview this week with a Twin Cities-area woman who said Blom and his wife, Amy, had a fight on May 26, 1999 -- the day of the abduction -- and that Donald Blom wasn't home that day.
The woman, Lori Lynn Tranby, told a Richfield police investigator a significant amount of Amy Blom's hair had been pulled out, and that she was with Amy Blom at the Blom home when Donald Blom called and told Amy: "I'm out of here."
Blom has admitted going fishing near Moose Lake that day, but he and Amy Blom told police he had returned home to Richfield by the time the abduction occurred at 11:38 p.m.
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