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Closing arguments escalate as former LA detective's murder trial nears end
LOS ANGELES (AP) ' Prosecution and defense lawyers made intense arguments Tuesday as they prepared to submit a 26-year-old, love triangle murder case against a former Los Angeles police detective to a jury.
Prosecutor Shannon Presby ridiculed theories that the DNA of defendant Stephanie Lazarus was planted.
Defense attorney Mark Overland insisted the DNA meant nothing because the collection and storage of the genetic material years ago was so poor it made the evidence untrustworthy.
Overland also raised multiple questions he said prosecutors failed to answer.
In rebuttal, Presby said some questions are unimportant and will never be answered.
But he said the most powerful answer is that DNA from a bite mark on the victim matched Lazarus and revealed her as the killer of Sherri Rasmussen, the woman who married the man Lazarus loved.
Rasmussen, 29, was bludgeoned and shot to death in 1986 in the condominium she shared with her new husband, John Ruetten, who was Lazarus' ex-boyfriend.
At the time, Lazarus was a young police officer. By the time work by cold-case investigators led to her arrest in 2009, she had been promoted to detective, working in a unit that specializes in crimes involving art.
She was summoned by her co-workers and told that she was now a murder suspect based on a single piece of evidence ' a swab containing DNA from a bite mark on the victim's arm.
"The motive was jealousy, one of the darkest and deepest of human emotions," Deputy District Attorney Paul Nunez told jurors Monday in the first part of the prosecution's closing argument.
Nunez argued that Lazarus should be convicted on the basis of the DNA swab and circumstantial evidence including her alleged obsession with Ruetten.
Overland on Monday ridiculed the claim of a fatal attraction between Lazarus and Ruetten, saying she never tried to reunite with her former lover after his wife was gone.