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Cops and Courts

Scientist testifies murder weapon holster had Julene Simko, husband's DNA


ELYRIA — A forensic scientist who tested for blood and DNA on several items in the home of Julene and Jeremy Simko said Tuesday that tests of the DNA found on the holster of the suspected murder weapon only matched profiles of the couple.

Julene Simko is accused of shooting her husband in their Vermilion home in 2009.

Clothing, including underwear and terry cloth robes, and a holster that held a .357 Smith and Wesson prosecutors said was used to shoot Jeremy Simko in his head, were tested for blood and sent to the state for DNA analysis.

Forensic scientist Stacy Violi of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation described the process of extracting DNA from items and testing the extraction for the quantity of DNA. The DNA is amplified in a “chemical Xeroxing process” until scientists have an optimal amount of DNA to compare with a reference sample, she said.

Violi testified that both Julene and Jeremy Simko’s DNA was on the Smith and Wesson’s holster and there was no “unidentified DNA” — meaning any DNA found on the holster could be matched to the Simkos.

Prosecutors have argued Julene Simko shot her husband in cold blood with the Smith and Wesson kept in a holster in a downstairs china cabinet, while the defense says an intruder came into the house, took the gun out of the cabinet and used it to shoot Jeremy Simko while the couple slept — Julene Simko on a couch on the third floor, and Jeremy Simko in their second-floor bedroom as his snoring was making it difficult for her to sleep.

Defense attorney Jack Bradley said when Julene Simko came downstairs to her bedroom and got back into bed with her husband, she felt something wet — her husband’s blood — and got scared, taking a 9 mm gun from her nightstand and firing two warning shots into a hallway to scare an intruder she thought was there.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said Julene Simko shot at an intruder she knew was never there.

In the defense’s version of events, the intruder, on his way out of the house after killing Jeremy Simko, left the Smith and Wesson on the kitchen floor where police entering the house through a back door into the kitchen later found it.

Violi said no DNA profile was found on the exterior kitchen door knob and DNA matching Julene Simko was found on the interior kitchen doorknob. Partial DNA matching Julene Simko also was found on a left door handle of a cabinet.

The DNA analysis also included a reference sample from then-Vermilion police Sgt. Michael Reinheimer because he placed the revolver in his belt at the small of his back, potentially compromising DNA evidence that could have been pulled from it.

Reinheimer has since been fired from the department for reasons unrelated to the Simko case.

Under questioning from the defense, Violi said DNA analysis cannot be used to tell how long DNA has been on an item, how it got there or give a timeline of events. She said it’s possible for DNA to be transferred between people to objects, and there are several variables and barriers that could be used to obscure DNA.

The trial will continue 9 a.m. today in front of Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski, who is deciding the case instead of a jury.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.

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