(SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky., October 8th, 2002, 11:25 a.m.) -- A judge has ruled that prosecutors can't admit evidence about a cadaver dog that showed interest in clothing at the farm of a man charged with murdering a Bullitt County teenager three years ago.
Bullitt Circuit Judge Thomas Waller ruled testimony about the dog's interest inadmissible because the dogs are used only to identify areas to be searched; the scents they pick up are not substantive evidence.
Waller said testimony about the dog would have a prejudicial effect on the trial of David "Bucky" Brooks.
John Spainhour, one of David Brooks' attorneys, called the ruling a victory for his client.
"Like so many parts of this case that first seemed to point one way -- toward the Brooks family -- you begin to look and see there are points that go so many other ways," Spainhour said. "This is yet another example."
Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann called Waller's ruling a setback.
"It's all circumstantial evidence, and we're hoping to use it all to paint the total picture," he said. "If you take a bit of it out, that hurts."
Jessica Dishon, 17, disappeared Sept. 10, 1999, from her home in rural Bullitt County. Her body was found about seven miles away on Sept. 27. She had been beaten and strangled.
David Brooks, 44, was arrested and charged with her murder after a grand jury indicted him on Jan. 18, 2001. He also faces charges of kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence and complicity. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
His brother, Joseph Brooks, 38, also was indicted that day and is charged with tampering with physical evidence and complicity. Mann wanted to enter testimony from dog handler Steve McLemore, who said a cadaver-locating dog named Donna picked up a smell similar to that of a decomposed body in a search of the Brooks farm in October 1999, less than a month after Dishon disappeared from her family's home.
The dog picked up the scent on a pair of gloves stuck under a couch in a building on the Brooks farm -- adjacent to the Dishon property -- and on clothing and gloves that had been burned outside, handlers have said.
Investigators contend that the clothing and gloves were worn by the Brookses when they moved Dishon's body.
But no blood or DNA evidence was found on the clothing or the gloves, according to laboratory reports submitted by Brooks' attorneys.
Mann said he could still submit items found in the pile.
"When you find clothing that has been burned ... that showed up after the time we believe her body was moved, I think there's still some value to that," he said.