CHESTERFIELD, Va. – On the fourth day of the murder trial of a still-missing woman, Leyla Namiranian, forensic analysis did not make any strong connections between the DNA of suspect Michael Anthony Edwards and Namiranian.
The Chesterfield woman was last seen on April 4, 2012, when she had dinner with her former boss at Altria, with whom she was intimate, according to his testimony.
She was also both scared and angry over a violent situation with Edwards, with whom she had broken up with for the fourth time, according to a diary entry read on day three of the trial.
Chesterfield Police long maintained that there was a laundry list of items against Edwards, although he was not arrested and charged until three years after Namiranian’s disappearance.
A detective testified that Edwards’ cell phone was reanalyzed in 2015. They found SMS messages to and from a contact entered as Leyla. All texts had been deleted, detectives said.
One text sent from Edwards’ phone begged Namiranian not to see Peter Paoli, who testified on day two that he had a personal relationship with Namiranian.
The text sent on April 2 read: “Leyla listen please don't see him again I love you very, very much."
During cross examination the detective said Leyla texted Edwards on April 4, but the context of the message is unknown, it was not read out loud in court.
Carla Hargrove, a woman who knows Edwards, also testified. She said that on April 4, Edwards called her and asked for a 6 a.m. wake up call.
She doesn't wake up that early but said she went ahead and called him at 6:30, then 9:30 and 10:42 a.m, but he never answered – at any time.
Hargrove testified that when she finally talked to him that night, Edwards told her, "If anyone asks say you were with me that day from 6 - 11 a.m.; but she said he wouldn’t tell her why.
During cross-examination, defense asked how she remembered those specific times and said she was shown them by police, a few weeks later when she was interviewed.
Forsenic analysis not one-hundred percent conclusive
Forensic examiners tested a bag that had a blanket and duct tape, found in Edwards’ trunk.
One expert testified that a Caucasian hair, from the scalp, was found on the blanket. It was determined to be consistent with Namiranian’s hairs and matched a sample taken from her hair brush, but it was not a 100 percent match, and the number of people it could also have matched is unknown.
That hair was also tested with hair found in the trunk liner and compared to Namiranian, but it was not consistent.
During cross-examination, the defense discovered that the trunk hair was blond.
The next forensic examiner to testify works in the DNA Case Unit tested the blanket for blood, the roll of duct tape, and tested the hair.
No blood detected on the blanket
A mix of DNA found on the duct tape indicated male and female DNA of several people, but there was no determination if the DNA was conclusively Edwards and Namiranian’s.
A partial DNA sequence of the hair found on the blanket was a partial match to Namiranian’s DNA profile but an expert said that 60 percent of the Caucasian population could also fit that mold.
The fingerprints found on the duct tape roll matched Edwards fingerprint but there was no sign of Namiranian’s.
CBS 6 is at the trial and will continue to provide updates, on TV and online. Closing arguments are expected on Friday.
Suspect admits lying; has previous conviction
During questioning early in the investigation, Edwards eventually admitted being at Leyla's house that night and morning. He also admitted to lying to investigators.
Edwards was previously convicted in 1990 of stabbing a woman and assaulting her daughter.
There have been at least two other cases in Virginia recently, where prosecutors were successful in obtaining a conviction in murder cases without a body.
In August 2015, James “Todd” Kessler was convicted for second-degree murder in the death of Claudine Jaquier Gifford. In July 2014, Randy Allen Taylor was convicted for first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in connection with the disappearance of missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy.