From Wayne Independent
The Jeffrey Plishka murder trial is expected to wrap up by the middle of next week, according to presiding Judge Robert Conway.
Jurors in the case paid a visit to the murder scene Friday morning. Tanner’s Falls in Dyberry Township is where Laura Lynne Ronning’s body was found on July 28, 1991, a day after she went missing.
The defense called four witnesses to the stand on Friday, including Forensic Firearms and Tool Marking Examiner Gerald Styers, Forensic Biologist Katherine Cross and two state troopers.
Trooper Patrick Zirpoli, Criminal Investigation Unit, Troop R, Honesdale, was recalled to the stand and questioned by the defense about Ronning’s two missing rings, one of them her high school graduation ring. Trooper Zirpoli said two rings matching the description were recorded at the time of autopsy but were lost during the investigation.
Styers testified that the bullet removed from Ronning’s head was not fired from the .22 Magnum Ithica Firearm removed from Plishka’s house, and that a cartridge casing found at the scene seven inches from a blood stain “was not fired in that gun.”
Cross, who works for NMS Labs
in Willow Grove, spoke about blood spatter and DNA, testifying that two to three different male DNA strands were found beneath Ronning’s nails. Cross-examined by District Attorney Mike Lehutsky, Cross agreed that the defendant, Plishka, could not be excluded from that DNA sample.
An expert in serology, which includes blood spatter analysis, Cross also discussed two different scenarios concerning Ronning’s death.
In the first scenario, Cross said the victim may have been shot at or near the blood spatter, fell, remaining there for several moments where the blood pooled before being dragged to the edge of the road where her body was rolled down the embankment, and stopped by trees.
Questioned about the blood that had pooled on the roadway, Cross said if may have taken up to 15 minutes for it “to seep into the ground to produce that type of stain,” later saying a more realistic time-frame may have been three to five minutes.
The blood stains showed a broken pattern, she said, or non-active bleeding. “This can happen when the heart stops ...or something is blocking the blood,” she said, or the heart is reduced in its beating capacity.
From the photographs she’d been given of the blood stained road, Cross said she was unable to determine if Ronning had been shot there.
A second scenario involved Ronning being shot elsewhere, her body transported to the roadway, where the wound-side of her head made contact with the ground, before being dragged, head side down, towards the edge of the road, where her body was rolled down the embankment until it got tangled in trees.