Fingerprint found on duct tape at murder scene was Jeffrey Moreland’s, witness testifies

09/11/2013 7:41 PM

09/11/2013 7:41 PM

On Dec. 3, 2008, about three weeks after the murder of Cara Jo Roberts, a fingerprint analyst at the Kansas City Police Department’s crime lab found a partial print on the sticky side of a roll of duct tape found at the scene.

It didn’t match Roberts, who had been sexually assaulted and shot in the back of the head in her Harrisonville home while her toddler son was at the baby sitter. Nor did it match her husband.

It didn’t match anyone. Investigators sat on that print and waited. For nearly three years.

Then that same analyst, Troy Mohror, was brought the prints of a former Grandview police officer. On Wednesday at the man’s murder trial, Mohror was asked for his finding.

It was a match, Mohror said, “to the right index finger of Jeffrey Moreland.”

Moreland, 54, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Roberts. He also is charged in Jackson County with the 2010 murder of 75-year-old Nina Whitney.

On Wednesday, two witnesses described how he allegedly used them to provide investigators with a phony DNA sample.

Thorrin Hacker, who prosecutors described as the fiance of Moreland’s daughter, testified that on June 17, 2011, Moreland asked to meet him at a Phillips 66 station.

A day earlier, two Kansas City detectives had gone to Moreland’s house to ask for a DNA sample. Moreland had become a person of interest in Whitney’s murder.

When Hacker arrived at the gas station, Moreland asked him for a DNA sample. He told Hacker that a woman thought she was pregnant and that could cause him a lot of trouble, Hacker testified.

Hacker said he agreed to help and Moreland produced a cheek swab and a needle to draw blood.

“Then he offered to pay for my gas,” Hacker testified.

Later that day, Moreland allegedly contacted a former colleague on the Grandview Police Department, Larry Godfrey, and asked the man to meet him.

Godfrey said that when he parked next to Moreland’s Jeep, Moreland told him, “Watch this.”

Moreland pulled his cheek away from his mouth and swabbed the inside, Godfrey said, then lowered his hands.

“Below my line of sight,” Godfrey testified.

Then, in what prosecutors allege to be a switcheroo, Moreland handed a paper bag containing Hacker’s DNA sample to Godfrey and said he would be contacted by a Kansas City detective.

The trial is likely to run through Friday.

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