No forensic evidence to link accused to Naglic's death

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CRIME / Xtra's ongoing coverage of the first-degree murder trial of Ivan Mendez-Romero James Dubro / Toronto Xtra / Friday, February 15, 2008

There was blood on the marble floor near where Janko Naglic's body was found, as well as blood on the red dress shirt that he was wearing, testified Det Sgt Larry Hicks of Toronto police Forensic Identification Section on Feb 13.

Ivan Mendez-Romero, Naglic's longtime lover, is currently facing first-degree murder charges in connection to Naglic's death on Oct 26, 2004.

Hicks testified that the blood found was Naglic's, and that his jacket was found nearby, torn with the sleeves inside out, indicating that there may have been a struggle.

There were no fingerprints on the silver duct tape that was wrapped around Naglic's mouth and nose — the cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation — nor on the tape on his right arm. The only identifiable DNA found on the tape was Naglic's.

Hicks also testified that there were 12 guns and rifles — legally registered and stored — in a gun safe at Naglic's Balloil St home that was the scene of his death, and that there were no signs of forcible entry or robbery. Hicks told the court that more than $800 cash was found in Naglic's wallet, which was found on his body along with a gold crucifix and rosary. There was also thousands of dollars in cash in safes found in the house, as well as a quantity of expensive jewelery.

According to police there are no direct witnesses to the murder, and no evidence that the accused bought or possessed any duct tape. As yet there has been no forensic evidence presented to implicate Mendez-Romero in Naglic's death.

The Crown's case against Mendez-Romero, as revealed in the opening statements on Feb 12, is based on the circumstantial testimony of the late Kathy Drury, whose testimony from the preliminary hearing last summer has been ruled admissible; Bob Grimson, whose doctors say is too infirm to testify but whose preliminary testimony will also be considered; and Wayne Telfer, who is expected to testify at the trial. All are friends of Naglic's and people to whom the deceased confided his fear of Mendez-Romero in the days leading up to his death. Naglic's accountant, Tom Ricketts, is also expected to testify that Mendez-Romero was removed from the Barn's payroll at week before Naglic's death.

The Crown stated in its opening arguments that Naglic discovered his lover in bed with Victoria Bunda — the woman Mendez-Romero allegedly secretly married in March 2004 — in a Minden, Ontario hotel on Sep 21, 2004 after Naglic found out through a friend that they were there. According to the Crown's theory a confrontation ensued after which Mendez-Romero allegedly told Naglic, as later relayed to witness Wayne Telfer, "Now you have done it. Now you are going to pay... Now I am going to ruin you. I am going to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission [of Ontario], I'm going to the tax department and when I finished everything I'm going to hire someone to kill you."

After a daylong break the trial resumes on Feb 15 with the testimony of the testimony of Josip Zemljak a close friend of Naglic for more than 40 years. The trial is expected to last for three to four weeks before going to the jury for deliberation.

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