Pillowcases splattered with blood. Sheets painted a gory red. Clothes stained beyond repair. A black-handled kitchen knife.
Prosecutors presented these items as evidence during Friday’s advancement of an ongoing attempted murder trial in Gainesville. Susan O’Brien Reuschel says her husband Michael Reuschel stabbed her, stabbed himself and blamed an intruder during the February 2018 incident.
Several photos of a kitchen knife from the scene were presented to the jury, capturing all sides of the utensil. One photo showed it from above, and the blade seemed to bend at a 45-degree angle from the hilt.
Vicki Bellino, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab analyst, compared DNA samples from the scene with swabs from O’Brien Reuschel and Reuschel. She said she examined multiple samples from the scene, including two from the knife as well as one from a sheet, two from a shirt and two from a pair of pants.
She said she found probable matches for O’Brien Reuschel’s DNA on one shirt sample and a separate blood marker from the scene. The blood on the sheets contained a probable DNA match for Reuschel. The blood on a second sample from the shirt, pants and knife displayed mixed results that placed varying percentages of matches between the pair.
The knife swabs displayed the most divisive results, Bellino said. A swab of the blade presented an 85% DNA match for O’Brien Reuschel and a 15% match for Reuschel’s; a swab of the handle showed a 41% DNA match of O’Brien Reuschel and a 59% match of Reuschel’s.
Bellino during cross-examination said these results could not, however, determine who last touched the knife that night.
Jennifer Roeder from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s digital evidence section was later called to the stand to speak about recordings from the home’s video cameras.
She said on Feb. 3, 2018, the night of the incident, the video feed of the front door camera shut off from 2:42 a.m. to 3:06 a.m. Two minutes after the feed returned, the video log reported what she called an “abnormal shutdown.” The camera then functioned as usual starting at 3:09 a.m.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office digital forensics detective William Patten covered the contents of Reuschel’s phone in his testimony. He revealed the husband’s device had the app that controls the house’s cameras open that night. His call log was also open, which showed his 911 call.
Cross-examiners pointed out a discrepancy in time differentials from the digital video recorder that the footage was recorded on and real time.
Bellino said there was at least a 10-minute differential between the log’s timestamp and the actual time. This contradicted an earlier testimony from Michael Moore, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office digital forensics examiner, who said there was a 19-minute time differential.
This could lead to affect the timeline of that night, when Moore also said Reuschel disarmed alarms at 3 a.m., according to alarm logs.
The trial began on Tuesday and will continue Monday.