The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.


The Murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald
 

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site

1979 JEFFREY MACDONALD CASE TRIAL TRANSCRIPT
August 2, 1979: Larry Flinn (Civilian Forensic chemist,
United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory,
Fort Gordon, Georgia

 

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, the Government calls Mr. Larry Flinn.

(Whereupon, LARRY LEONARD FLINN was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)


D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N (9:58)

BY MR. MURTAGH:
Q Please state your name, sir, and spell it for the reporter?
A My name is Larry Leonard Flinn.
Q Okay, what is your occupation, Mr. Flinn?
A I am a forensic chemist.
Q And where are you employed as a forensic chemist?
A I am employed at the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Q And how long have you been employed -- I take it you are a civilian?
A Yes, I am.
Q How long have you been employed as a civilian with the Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory?
A As a civilian I have been there approximately seven years.
Q Have you always been there in the capacity as a civilian forensic chemist?
A No, sir.
Q Were you ever in the Armed Forces?
A Yes, I was.
Q When did you enter the Army?
A I entered the Army in August of 1968.
Q Now, let me ask you, I take it you took basic training?
A Yes, I did.
Q And where did you take that?
A My basic training was taken at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Q Were you drafted?
A Yes, I was.
Q After basic training where did you go next?
A I was assigned to the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory at Fort Gordon.
Q When did you arrive there, sir?
A That would have been the first part of November of 1968.
Q 1968, okay. Now, let me ask you, what was your formal education, sir?
A I have a bachelor of arts degree with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics from Kansas Westland University, Salina, Kansas; and a master of Science degree, with a major in chemistry and a minor in molecular biology and biochemistry from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Q Now, I take it your undergraduate education included laboratory courses?
A Yes; it did.
Q Okay; did any of those courses include training or use of instrument analysis?
A Yes; they did.
Q Now, when you arrived at Fort Gordon at the laboratory, did you receive any additional training?
A Yes; I did.
Q And what was the nature of that training, sir?
A I received training in the analysis and the identification of drugs as well as the analysis and identification of serological evidence -- blood stains.
Q Now, did that training with respect to blood stains include a study of the components of blood?
A Yes; it did.
Q Did it include the analysis of dried blood stains for those components?
A Yes, sir.
Q Including antibodies?
A Yes, sir.
Q What test or tests were you trained on for the detection of antibodies in dried blood stains?
A I was trained in the use of the Lattes test, or crust test.
Q Do you understand the scientific basis of the test?
A Yes, sir.
Q Would you briefly state what that is?
A Yes; I will. The Lattes test, or crust test, is a test to determine the presence or absence of antibodies in a blood stain. An individual of a particular blood type is expected to have certain antigens either present or absent on his red blood cells. This determines his blood type.
A person with a particular type of blood will have present or absent in his serum -- his blood serum -- certain antibodies. And when blood dries, these antigens and antibodies still remain in the stain. As I said, the Lattes test, or crust test, is a method for detection of the antibodies in the stain.
Q Let me ask you, if I could -- it is called the "crust test." Now, why is that so, sir?
A Originally, it was performed on blood crusts -- crusts of dried blood.
Q With regard to your serological training at the laboratory, did you work under somebody?
A Yes; I did.
Q And who was that, please?
A Janice Glisson.
Q Okay; and in what capacity was Janice Glisson employed?
A She was employed as a forensic chemist at the laboratory.
Q Was she senior to you?
A Yes; she was.
Q Now, can you describe briefly the nature of the training you received under Mrs. Glisson?
A Are you specifically talking about serology now?
Q Serology; yes.
A The training I received in serology was conducted by reading assignments out of various books -- journal articles in scientific journals dealing with the examination and typing of blood stains. There was a good deal of practical exercises gone through during the training where as a first part of the training I was given known blood samples -- in other words, blood stains of which I knew the type so I could see what type of reactions were expected for those.
And as the training progressed, I was given samples of which I did not know the blood type but which Mrs. Glisson did, and I was -- in other words, this was blind typing -- typing of the blood stains to determine the blood typing.
Q Okay; how about actual cases as part of the training?
A As part of the training, yes. In cases where there was sufficient blood stain material on actual cases that Mrs. Glisson was working, I would duplicate her tests on the articles on the blood stains to determine the blood type.
Q Now, did you have experience in using this procedure on actual cases prior to January, 1970?
A Yes, sir.
Q Okay; and approximately how many times did you have occasion to perform the crust test?
A The crust test?
Q Yes.
A Probably several hundred times.
Q Now, is the crust test generally accepted in the scientific community as being valid for the detection of antibodies in dried blood stains?
A Yes; it is.
Q Is that test still in use today?
A Yes.
Q Is the methodology basically the same?
A Yes.
Q Did you use that methodology on the stains in this case?
A Yes; I did.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time the Government would tender Mr. Flinn as an expert in the detection of antibodies in dried blood stains using the crust test in the ABO system.

THE COURT: Very well.

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, directing your attention to the weekend of February 21st - 22nd, 1970 -- do you recall where you were?
A Yes; I was living in Augusta.
Q In Augusta?
A Yes.
Q Did you receive a phone call?
A Yes; I did.
Q And from whom did you receive a phone call?
A I received a phone call from Joel Leson -- Captain Joel Leson -- that is L-e-s-o-n -- who was the commanding officer of the Army Crime Lab at that particular time.
Q Okay; and as a result of this phone call, what, if anything, did you do?
A I was told to report to work -- I believe the phone call was received on a Sunday. I believe that would be the 22nd of February. I was told to report to work the following day, that there was some evidence coming in which involved serological examinations.
Q If you recall, sir, how did you feel about being told to report that particular Monday?
A Well, as I recall -- well, she wasn't my wife then, but I was dating her at the time -- we had already made plans, so that is why I remember that particular incident.
Q Had you been to Fort Bragg with the lab team?
A No, sir.
Q And did you report to the laboratory?
A Yes; I did.
Q At this time, Mr. Flinn, I would like to show Government Exhibit 306 in evidence, and also mark Government Exhibit 307, a vial bearing the legend on a piece of tape, "Number 205, hairs, fibers removed from club, 23 February 70, LLF."

(Government Exhibit 307 was marked for identification.)

(Counsel confer.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q All right, Mr. Flinn -- Government Exhibit 306 and Government 307 -- I ask if you recognize that, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Okay; can you tell us, sir, if you recall, how you first saw Government Exhibit 307?
A That is this item?
Q Yes; the piece of wood. I am sorry; Government 306 is the piece of wood.
A Yes; when I first saw this item, it was packaged in two plastic bags, one of which was over this end, one of which was over this end. They were overlapped in the middle and wrapped with masking tape.
Q Okay; and at that time, were you wearing any laboratory equipment?
A Yes; I was. I was wearing surgical gloves.
Q Okay; now, what did you do to the piece of wood and the plastic bags?
A The plastic bags -- well, first of all, an area was cleared for the examination of the item.
Q Let me ask you, if I could interrupt, where were you, if you recall?
A I was in the photo section, the photo division of the Crime Laboratory. I prepared an area to examine the blood for the presence of any debris and to remove the debris. In other words, I took a table area, covered it with clean brown paper, removed the plastic bags from the club or the piece of wood, and removed any debris which was adhering to the wood, placed these in a plastic vial which was labeled that it was removed from the wood.
Q Now, you spoke of brown paper -- is that standard laboratory procedure or can you explain a little about that?
A Well, the brown paper comes off a large brown paper roll. We use it to lay down.
Q And, after you collected the debris, what did you do?
A As I said, I placed it in a vial, and I believe I gave the vial to Craig Chamberlain.
Q Is Government 307 that vial?
A Yes; it is.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would offer 307 and ask that it be received, debris removed from Government 306.

THE COURT: Very well.

(Government Exhibit No. 307 was received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, at this time, we would show you Government 322 in evidence, what has been identified as the multi-colored throw rug found near the body of Colette MacDonald, and ask if you recognize that.
A Yes, sir.
Q This time I will show you Government 321, a vial bearing a piece of tape that says, "Hairs, fibers from D-227, LLF." Do you recognize that, sir?
A Yes, sir.

(Government Exhibit No. 321 was marked for identification.)

Q What is the relationship between the vial and the rug, sir?
A The vial contains the debris that was removed from the rug.
Q At the laboratory?
A Yes, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would offer Government 321, debris removed from the multi-colored throw rug and ask that it be received.

THE COURT: Very well.

(Government Exhibit No. 321 was received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, at this time, I will show you what I believe is Government 104 -- let me check that number -- yes, Government 104, a bedspread which there has been testimony was collected off the floor of the master bedroom, and ask you if you recognize that.

THE COURT: Are you in a position to use your abbreviated procedure here?

MR. MURTAGH: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: If you are, I think we can save some time.

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would also mark and offer Government 107, a vial carrying the legend, "Hairs, Fibers, Et Cetera, D-229," which I believe is the laboratory number of the bedspread, as well as Government 108, a vial containing what appears to be a cutting marked "D-229, LLF." We would offer Government 108 and 107 and ask that they be received.

THE COURT: Very well.

(Government Exhibit Nos. 108 and 107 were marked for identification and received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, now, in addition to collecting the debris from various items, did you have occasion to participate in the testing of suspected blood stains in this case?
A Yes, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would mark 643, a chart. This is a chart that Dr. Chamberlain testified about yesterday which has two acetate sheets on it. The one beneath is marked 643, number 1 CFC. There is an additional acetate sheet bearing the initials "LLF" which has been placed over it since yesterday.

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Now, Mr. Flinn, could you tell us, sir, with respect to Government 322, the multi-colored throw rug, what tests, if any, were performed?
A Yes; I performed the benzidine test, the precipitin test, and the crust test on that exhibit.
Q And what results did you get, sir?
A The test that revealed the presence of anti B.
Q Did you test any of the other exhibits that are on that chart?
A No.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would offer this chart, 643, that pertains to Mr. Flinn's testimony, and ask that it be received.

THE COURT: Very well.

(Government Exhibit No. 643 was marked for identification and received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government would mark another chart, 644, which, like 643, has two acetate sheets on it -- one from Dr. Chamberlain and the other from Mr. Flinn.

(Government Exhibit No. 644 was marked for identification.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Now, sir, with respect to Government Exhibit 104, the multi-colored bedspread, what tests, if any, did you perform?
A A benzidine test, a precipitin test, and a crust test was performed on that exhibit.
Q And, with respect to the crust test, what were your results?
A There were positive benzidine and positive precipitin, and the crust test resulted in the presence of anti B.
Q And is that indicated on the chart?
A Yes; it is, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: The Government would offer 644 at this time.

(Government Exhibit No. 644 was received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Now, Mr. Flinn, with respect to that chart and with respect to Government Exhibit 309, a piece of shag carpet, what tests, if any, did you perform?
A The benzidine test, the precipitin test, and the crust test were all performed on that exhibit.
Q And what results did you get, sir?
A The positive benzidine test, the positive precipitin, and the crust test -- there was no reaction.
Q At this time, let me show you what has been received in evidence as Government 309, a piece of shag carpet, and ask you if that is it.
A Yes; it is.
Q Would you point that out, please, to the photograph -- if any -- on the chart?

(Witness complies.)

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time the Government would offer 645.

(Government Exhibit 645 was marked for identification and received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, let me show you another chart -- 648 -- with two acetate sheets on it. Now, Mr. Flinn, with respect to Government Exhibits 359, 360 and 361 -- which have been identified as suspected blood stains coming from the area by the bed of Kristen MacDonald in the north bedroom -- what tests, if any, did you perform on those stains?
A On those stains, the benzidine test, the precipitin test, and the crust test were performed.
Q Okay; and what results did you get?
A Benzidine was positive, precipitin was positive, and the crust test revealed the presence of anti A and anti B.
Q Okay; are the results of the crust test indicated on the chart?
A Yes; they are -- right here, here, and here.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, the Government would offer 648.

(Government Exhibit 648 was marked for identification and received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH:
Q Mr. Flinn, let me show you Government 650. Now, sir, with respect to Government Exhibits 364, 365 -- let me ask you, what is the relationship between 364 and 365, 366 and 367, if you know, sir?
A Government Exhibits 365, 366 and 367 all originated from Government Exhibit 364.
Q Are those cuttings?
A That is correct.
Q Would you explain, sir, to the jury what a cutting is?
A It means an area of the blood stain was physically removed from the green bedspread.
Q Okay; do you see that green bedspread in the picture there?
A Yes, sir; I do.
Q Would you point it out, please?
A It is this right here.
Q You are indicating the green bedspread in Kristen's room -- the north bedroom?
A That is correct.
Q Now what tests did you perform on that bedspread with respect to those areas, and what were your results?
A On the bedspread, the benzidine test, precipitin test, and crust test were ran on that exhibit -- benzidine and precipitin being positive. The crust test specifically for what has been marked Government Exhibit 365 revealed the presence of anti B.
Q I am sorry; I can't hear you, sir.
A Specifically for what has been marked Government Exhibit Number 365, the crust test revealed the presence of anti B; 366, the crust test revealed the presence of anti B; and 367, there was no reaction to the crust test.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, at this time, the Government will offer chart 650, as well as exhibits 365, 366 and 367.

THE COURT: Very well.

(Government Exhibits 365, 366, 367 and 650 were received in evidence.)

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, the Defense may cross-examine.


C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 10:27 a.m.

BY MR. SEGAL:
Q Mr. Flinn, may I ask you, please -- at the time you entered the Army, how far had you gone at the university level?
A I had completed a Bachelor's Degree, sir.
Q That was a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry as a major?
A It was a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in chemistry, sir.
Q What year had you graduated?
A 1968.
Q You went directly after graduation in August of '68 into the Army?
A In August of '68 I entered the Army; yes, sir.
Q Had you worked in between the time you graduated from the college in the field of chemistry until you went in the Army?
A No, sir; I had already had my pre-induction physical and received my notice.
Q So that your formal training at the time that you were assigned in November of 1968 to the lab at Fort Gordon was the training you had received in getting your Bachelor of Arts degree as a chemistry major; is that right?
A That is correct.
Q Now, were you one of those persons who went through the six-month in-house training program at the lab to qualify you as a lab technician?
A I went through a training program at the laboratory. Mine was a little more out of order than some people's were, but yes; I completed approximately six months' training.
Q Was it roughly six months, or was it less or more?
A It was roughly six months. It could have been a little less than that.
Q May I ask what you mean when you say it was somewhat "out of order"?
A Initially, on being assigned to the laboratory, I went through training in the identification of drugs and narcotics and related substances. The training which I received in serological examinations was received roughly in June and July of 1969.
Q I see; in other words, the serological or blood training came at a later time because of some organization problem at the laboratory?
A At that particular time there was a large influx of drug cases, and I was kept working drugs at that particular time.
Q So the priorities were to train technicians who can analyze and identify drugs; is that right?
A No; I don't think that is exactly correct. The priorities -- that is where the personnel were needed at that particular time.
Q All right; so your blood training you then postponed until 1969 sometime?
A That is correct.
Q Do you recall when it was in 1969 that you received that blood training -- from when approximately to approximately when?
A I am not sure as to the dates. It would have been I believe in June or July -- I'm sorry, June and July -- sometime in that time frame. It was approximately six weeks to two months' training that I received.
Q Now, during that training period, you described for us before in direct examination that you were given a series of stains on which the blood type was already known as the result of the work of some senior chemist, is that right?
A That is correct.
Q And the purpose of it was to see whether you, as a beginning or learning lab person, could identify correctly those stains yourself?
A It was simply a practical exercise, being the first time, for instance, that you went through that particular type of examination. You would want to see what type of results would be expected with a blood stain of unknown type.
Q About how many of those type of tests did you actually work on during your training period -- that is, tests where you were given a sample of a blood stain that someone else knew what it was, and that you were asked to identify?
A In -- that I did not know, is that what you are --
Q (Interposing) No, how many were you given to work this way -- that you didn't know what they were; someone else knew and said, "Could you, Mr. Flinn, come up with your report?"
A I really couldn't give you a number. I know it -- a great deal of time was spent on practical exercise.
Q Were there dozens?
A Oh, yes.
Q More than hundreds?
A Well, I don't know if there would be actually hundreds of them. If it -- it could have run, I guess, a couple hundred; yes.
Q All right, and during this period of time when you were learning, how often did you come up with the wrong answer with regard to known stain -- that is, someone else knew the right answer and you were asked to find it?
A I don't really recall.
Q I don't mean in any way to impugn your ability, but it would be fair to say there were at least some occasions when in this learning process that you didn't identify the known stain -- that was known to somebody else?
A There may have been occasions when I first started where that occurred.
Q Did you ever make up an error rate for yourself to see what degree of proficiency you had achieved during your training period?
A No, sir.
Q You don't know whether you had a hundred percent efficiency or ninety percent efficiency?
A As I said, sir, I may have made some errors in the very -- in the training portion or early in the training portion. I don't know; I don't recall any.
Q And after you finished the training portion, did anyone ever have occasion to check any of your serological work thereafter, after July of 1969 up until February 17 of 1970?
A Just -- what do you mean by that?
Q Anybody from the laboratory, a more senior technician, more experienced, ever have occasion to review your blood findings that you had made?
A There were occasions where Mrs. Glisson has duplicated some of the things that I ran, yes.
Q Did you ever compute your error rate based upon that review of your findings?

MR. MURTAGH: OBJECTION, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Yeah, I will SUSTAIN it as to the form.

BY MR. SEGAL:
Q All right, did you know what portion of your work was reviewed by a senior technician, Mrs. Glisson, or some other senior technician in the area of blood typing?
A No.
Q Would it be fair to conclude based on what you said this morning that only a very small proportion of your work was ever reviewed on blood testing between July of 1969 and February of 1970 -- only a small proportion of your work was reviewed by somebody else?
A I really don't recall. I completed my training and I don't really -- you know, there may have been some times that it was checked. I don't recall how many times it was checked.
Q To your knowledge, at any time between July of 1969 and February of 1970, did you ever make an error in blood stain --
A (Interposing) Not to my knowledge.
Q Not to your knowledge? How about since that time; from February 1970 to date, have you ever become aware of ever having made an error in dried blood typing work?
A No, not to my knowledge.
Q No one has ever reported to you in that regard, that they disagree with your findings?
A No, sir.

MR. SEGAL: I have no further questions of Mr. Flinn, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Redirect?

MR. MURTAGH: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Call your next.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, we call Mrs. Pam Kalin Cochran.

THE COURT: You may be excused, sir.

(Witness excused.)

 

 

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