BY LEANN DILBECK & JACLYN ROSE –
Day two of the Van Winkle trial concluded today with jurors hearing continued testimony from the law enforcement and crime lab officials, and testimony directly from the complainant in the case, Miranda Olmstead, along with her now ex-husband, Jerry.
Deputy Ronnie Richardson testified on the procedures used to preserve and document the crime scene as well as the collection of evidence. Those photographs were presented to the jury. He testified on the physical condition of Van Winkle upon arriving at the scene of the incident as well as confirming that he was not intoxicated. Richardson also said Van Winkle’s hands had blood on them.
Deputy Gene Hendrix was the first to arrive to Miranda who was located at another residence. Hendrix described her as hysterical and having zip-ties on both hands with her clothing in a disarray. He said she had no scratches or scrapes but a lot of redness.
Jerry Olmstead, Miranda’s husband at the time of the incident, took the stand and said that he was in Lowell, Ark. the night the alleged incident occurred. He said he had been speaking with Miranda for approximately 20 minutes around midnight, having a pleasant conversation, when Miranda exclaimed in fright and the call abruptly ended. He then contacted the local Sheriff’s office and continued to try to call Miranda back at least once.
Miranda Olmstead took the stand mid-morning following a brief recess. Miranda admitted to being a drug-addict. She currently resides at the Department of Community Correction as a first-time felony drug offender per a drug-court sanction. She was charged with Residential Burglary following an incident when she stole prescription pain medicine from a friend’s home. Miranda also said that she suffered back pain due to physical abuse and a car wreck.
Miranda explained that she sought dental work from Van Winkle who agreed to provide services and accept payment through a payment plan or would allow her to provide cleaning services. She testified that he performed multiple extractions and therefore, provided prescription pain medications, which jurors later learned was against the recommendation of her probation officer because of her addiction to the specific drugs that were prescribed. She admitted that she withheld the prescriptions from her probation officer and that she and Van Winkle conspired to falsify a ledger that was maintained to record dispensed prescription medications.
Miranda also described an incident that allegedly occurred at his home where she claims she was forced to provide oral sex for Van Winkle to modify the ledger in order to keep her in compliance and not sent to jail. Following that incident, Miranda continued in contact with Van Winkle for the purpose of receiving hydrocodone.
She testified that on the night of September 25, she arrived home after completing her shift at a local restaurant. Upon entering the home and laying items down she observed that a vent hood light was turned off and that she traditionally left it on. She said as she approached, while on the phone with her husband at the time, she heard the bedroom door creak and was then met by Van Winkle who had a gun pointed directly at her at which time, she dropped the phone. She said the two struggled and her hands were placed in zip-ties behind her back and duck tape placed over her mouth. The two continued to struggle and that she was pleading for him not to hurt her. He eventually opened a door to the outside and said they would go for a walk when she was able to break free and run to her neighbor’s house.
During cross-examination, James established that the only payment made for multiple dental procedures was $50. He questioned the many different drugs that she had experimented with. She was also questioned on the number of pills prescribed in specific time frames, arguing that Van Winkle had stayed within the perimeters of what is allowed and questioned why Van Winkle would be motivated to falsify records to protect her when his job was to treat her.
Jurors also heard testimony from members of the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Among detailed testimony provided by one, it was noted that there was no blood on the zip-ties.
Interesting testimony was provided on duct tape. It was explained that manufacturers of duct tape are continually changing the construction and physical properties of it to maintain competitive in the industry, saying similarities are significant. It was also stated that while composition was similar the tear marks did not match but that it was still possible to be from the same roll but at different sections.
Shantel Taylor of the Arkansas State Crime Lab said that their investigation concluded that the duct tape on Miranda was consistent with duct tape found in Van Winkle’s possession. She also said that fibers found on Miranda’s shirt matched fibers from Van Winkle’s pants.
During cross examination, James questioned the probability of duct tape being purchased at the same location within a similar time frame and not necessarily being from the same roll.
The neuropsychologist responsible for conducting Van Winkle’s mental evaluation testified that Van Winkle contends he has no memory of the incident. He said he found absolutely no mental disease or mental defect nor did he suffer from dementia.
The court will reconvene at 9:30 Wednesday morning and the first witness is expected to provide lengthy testimony.