Russ Faria retrial, Day 1 – CSI agent contradicts original prosecution theories

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TROY, MO (KTVI) – The end of the first day of the Russ Faria murder trial brought a big turn of events. Faria is accused of stabbing his cancer stricken wife 55 times in 2011.

The last witness Monday was CSI agent Amy Buettner, who was on the original Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. Under cross examination, Buettner contradicted several prosecution assertions from the first trial.

Buettner said the bloody slippers found in Russ Faria’s closet did not appear that they stepped in blood. When looking at evidence photos on the stand, she said blood had to get on those slippers in another way. This is important because the defense has always alleged the slippers were planted. Police found no blood evidence on Russ Faria. During the first trial, prosecutors claimed Faria stepped in blood with his slippers during the murder and cleaned up.

Buettner also said there was no evidence of a cleanup at the murder scene. Because of that, she said she refused to spray Luminol in the kitchen near where Betsy Faria was stabbed 55 times. Luminol is a substance used to detect blood that you can’t see with the naked eye.

Days later, deputies sprayed Luminol and said it showed blood, but CSI Agent Buettner said they did that after the scene was contaminated. It was days later when Faria’s family was allowed back inside to clean the home. Luminol can also reveal false positives when it reacts with cleaning solutions.

Buettner said she believed the bloody light switch was swiped with a bloody cloth. Police never found a bloody cloth at the scene.

Buettner also said she didn’t see any blood on the Farias’ dog. An alleged bloody paw print was a big part of the prosecution’s evidence during the first trial. Prosecutor Leah Askey said a bloody paw print on Betsy was evidence that Russ was the killer. But Buettner said not only was there no evidence of blood on the dog, but she was specifically ordered not to test for it.

Buettner was prosecutor Leah Askey’s witness. It was a tough ending for the prosecution. Until that point, the biggest part of the day seemed to focus on Faria’s 911 call. Askey hinted that Faria was faking. She pointed out he was screaming one second and answering questions the next. Defense attorney Joel Schwartz said the call speaks for itself.

The Lincoln County prosecutor brought up another piece of evidence involving a computer. Askey hasn’t yet given supporting evidence, but during opening statements she said detectives recently found a letter on Betsy Faria’s laptop that says she feared Russ and to call police if something happened to her. The defense has suggested the letter was planted, without giving any more details about the contents or how police discovered it.

We should hear more about this new allegation and another big one that hasn’t yet been supported. During opening statements, the prosecution alleged Russ had a pregnant girlfriend. Later, one of Betsy’s sisters testified that her husband had an affair with Betsy in 2005. She said Russ was mad about it, but it was unclear when he may have found out.

Day two of the retrial begins Tuesday at 9 a.m.