Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Prosecutor says suspect in 1984 killing 'stabbed her again and again' - Fort Worth Star Telegram

FORT WORTH -- Murder suspect Ryland Shane Absalon hid in 18-year-old Ginger Hayden's closet until she fell asleep and then stabbed her repeatedly with a steak knife after she rebuffed his sexual advances, a Tarrant County prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.

"He stabbed her again and again and again," Lisa Callaghan said during her opening statements in Absalon's capital murder trial. "She had rejected him."Confessions that Absalon made to acquaintances during drug and alcohol treatment and new DNA evidence link him to the crime, Callaghan said. Absalon's DNA was found on a towel in the bathroom and his pubic hair was found on a blood-soaked sock on the bathroom counter, she said.But defense attorney Gary Udashen pointed to still-unidentified male DNA found in Hayden's bedding and under her fingernails as evidence that the University of Texas at Arlington student may have been slain by a suspected serial killer who was believed to have been targeting young women in Fort Worth at the time."There was somebody out there," Udashen said. "Somebody was breaking into young women's apartments. Maybe someday we'll know who it was. Shane is not that person. Ginger was his friend."Udashen said Absalon falsely confessed to the killing after being pressured during a domineering treatment program that promised him confidentiality.Absalon, 45, who was 17 at the time of the killing, is accused of stabbing Hayden 57 times on Sept. 5, 1984.At the time, Fort Worth police had created a task force to investigate the rash of slayings of women, and Hayden's case was among them.Investigators said Tuesday that police eventually concluded that the slayings were not related.Hayden's case went unsolved until 2009 when the Fort Worth Police Department's cold-case unit got a federal grant for DNA testing.Absalon, who was among the suspects at the time, lived in the apartment above Hayden and her mother and frequently visited them.He has maintained his innocence and was living in Arizona with his wife and pre-school-age child when arrested.Callaghan, joined by prosecutors Jim Hudson and Anna Summersett, told jurors that Hayden was slain on the day she was set to start classes at UT Arlington for the first time. Her mother found the body after her daughter's alarm went off and she didn't get up."Sept. 5, 1984, was supposed to be a milestone in Ginger Hayden's life," Callaghan said. "It turned out to be a date on her gravestone."Testimony began Tuesday with detectives and crime scene investigators. Jurors were shown graphic photos of Hayden's blood-soaked bed and her bloodied body beside it. The young woman had apparently slipped from the bed after the stabbing and died in a kneeling position with her arms under her. Blood was splattered throughout the room, and the bent steak knife was beside her body.The sliding glass door leading into Hayden's bedroom appeared to be locked but was not pushed completely closed, according to Brad Patterson, then a crime scene investigator who has since retired. Jurors were also shown the closet doors taken from Hayden's bedroom. Blood spatters on one door but not the other suggest that the doors were open at the time of the killing or that the blood was blocked by the killer, Patterson said.Other investigators testified that semen was found on the body and on a quilt. Prosecutors have indicated that the semen was not found to be Absalon's.If convicted, Absalon faces a sentence of life in prison. He would be eligible for parole under the laws in place in 1984.Testimony is set to resume today before state District Judge Everett Young.Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

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