Criminologist testifies about duct tape used in 1980 murder
The Placerville trial of Andrew Sanford, accused of an August 1980 murder of Richard Swanson in South Lake Tahoe, continued this week with a jewelry theft and closed with trying to match pieces of duct tape together.
The duct tape was used to asphyxiate Swanson.
Ricci Cooksey, a senior criminologist with the state Department of Justice, tried to put the pieces of duct tape together like a “jigsaw puzzle.”
Cooksey was able to fit nearly all the pieces into a near-complete chain, with only one piece and a few ends not having a positive match. The pieces came from Swanson’s head, midsection and wrists.
By process of elimination, Cooksey believed he knew where they were placed in the chain, but damage to the sides meant he could not say with all certainty.
Bill Williams, the former owner of Ten Window Williams, a jewelry store in Eureka, testified about a theft Veteran’s Day in 1980. A “grab and run in daylight,” it was the only time something of the sort had happened, Williams said, making it stick clearly in his memory. All other break-ins had been during the night.
Two men had come in to the store, looking at expensive rings. After they left, one of them came back. Williams heard the scream of his clerk and ran out front, pursuing the suspect. Men doing construction nearby pointed him in the right direction. The suspect was found in the basement storage area of a local business, Williams recalled. Police later returned an emerald ring.
William Honsal, an officer from Eureka PD who was on-scene for the ring theft. He recalled the suspect was indeed found in a basement/office/storage area of a department store about three blocks from Williams’ store.
He remembered the suspect was carrying handcuffs, which struck him as “very unusual” and the only suspect he encountered who had carried handcuffs. The suspect was identified as Richard Edward Simms, which, according to a stipulation, was an alias used by Sanford.
Several weeks have been allotted for the old homicide case, which went to trial following Sanford’s arrest two years ago based in part on DNA evidence left behind on duct tape used to bind Swanson.