Police forensic officer testifies in Bhogal murder trial

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After the coroner removed Autumn Taggart’s body from her West Windsor apartment three years ago, police seized 75 to 80 items for forensic analysis, a murder trial was heard on Monday.


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Sergeant. William Hodgins testified that the apartment at 1382 University Ave. W. was “in complete disarray.” He said “numerous” of the evidence collected for analysis by the Center for Forensic Sciences (CFS) in Toronto were tissues used with suspected blood stains.

Unlike TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Hodgins said his job as a forensic identification specialist for the Windsor Police Service was to collect items that could be related to a crime via fingerprints or DNA and then send them to the CFS laboratory for analysis.

Hodgins, who now works in the professional standards branch but was a seven-year veteran officer of the Windsor Police Forensic Identification Branch in June 2018, was the last prosecution witness in the Jitesh Bhogal murder trial in the Superior Court of Justice. Hodgins and another officer, both dressed in protective suits, gloves and shoe covers, examined Taggart’s apartment during two night shifts in the days after Taggart’s body was discovered in his bedroom.


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He described a bedroom full of empty beverage containers, food and snack wrappers and packaging. When asked if the felony branch had tasked him with looking for anything specific, Hodgins replied yes, a striped T-shirt and anything that could have been used as a weapon in the suspicious death.

When questioned by defense attorney Peter Thorning, the officer said no known offenders had been identified at the time of his assignment. Hodgins, who testified that he had attended “thousands” of crime scenes, said that almost a year later, in May 2019, he was tasked with collecting a blood sample from Bhogal for DNA analysis.

Hodgins agreed with Thorning’s suggestion that “cross-contamination (of evidence) can occur whenever two unrelated elements touch.” He said no suspicious weapons or blood splatters were discovered in Taggart’s apartment.


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Earlier Monday, Thorning concluded his questioning of Jake Thompson, one of two prosecution witnesses who testified that they had agreed on the night of Taggart’s death to score cocaine for Bhogal, only to end up ripping him off.

Thompson has already testified that, as his girlfriend had told the court before him, he was drunk that night too, but insisted Monday that “my memory is pretty good.”

When Thorning challenged him on that, suggesting that drinking “excessive amounts of alcohol” would affect his memory of details, Thompson replied, “Absolutely.”

Thorning pointed to Thompson’s earlier statements to police and sworn testimony later given in a preliminary investigation, and how some of the details differed from what he told the 14-member jury and Judge Renee Pomerance.

“Has the memory of the precise details of this event been lost?” I ask.

“You can say that,” Thompson replied.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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