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Local

Linderman trial focus shifts to autopsy, DNA evaluation

Defense Attorney Jill Eimermann speaks to witnesses questions during the Randy Linderman trial Wednesday. Linderman, 52, is on trial for a first-degree murder count from the March 2017 death of Jose Ramirez Berber.
Defense Attorney Jill Eimermann speaks to witnesses questions during the Randy Linderman trial Wednesday. Linderman, 52, is on trial for a first-degree murder count from the March 2017 death of Jose Ramirez Berber.

Autopsy findings and DNA testing were the focus Wednesday in Jasper County Court during the first-degree murder trial of Randy Linderman.

Linderman, 52, of Charles City, is on trial for the March 2017 murder of Jose Ramirez Berber in rural Newton.

District Court Judge Richard Clogg is presiding over the trial, Jasper County Attorney Scott Nicholson and Assistant Jasper County Attorney Kelly Bennett interviewed witnesses for the prosecution while attorneys Jill Eimermann and Trevor Andersen cross-examined witnesses and evidence for the defense.

The first and only witness of the morning who gave testimony was Francis Garrity, a medical examiner who did the victim’s autopsy. Both sides asked thorough questions about the autopsy routine with Garrity, and his examination, both external and internal, of the head, skull and brain.

On several occasions, the point was made the skull fracture and the dark parts of the right side of the brain resulting from a hemorrhage could have been caused by multiple blows from a blunt force from an object such as possibly a fist, elbow or knee, as well as how long the injuries were present.

“The cause of death is blunt-force trauma, as evidenced by (the hemorrhage). The mechanism can’t be proven exactly,” Garrity said. “Certainly, it wasn’t days or weeks, but it could be somewhere in between minutes or hours.”

In the afternoon, testimony was given by Brenda Crosby, a DCI criminality responsible for the DNA testing on the victim’s underwear. Crosby testified to taking four test samples from the victim’s boxers and doing DNA tests on them. Three of them could not determine a probable match, but one matched the DNA of Linderman.

DNA tests were also done on a soda can and two-liter bottle at the crime scene, and although one test allegedly confirmed female DNA, neither test confirmed Linderman touched those soda products.

Crosby said DNA matching Linderman was found on the back side of the victim’s boxers, as well as on a rectal swab after taking samples from the victim’s anus.

“Your analysis shows the DNA profile of Randy Linderman was found in both Jose Ramirez Berber’s underwear and the rectal swabs taken from his body during the autopsy. Is that correct?” Nicholson asked Crosby, to which she responded yes.

Other testimony that afternoon included the 911 caller going back up to help Eimermann clear up any confusion from his testimony the day before, and from a person Linderman allegedly knew and spoke to on the phone at around 3:30 p.m. the day of the murder, March 6, 2017.

Jury selection took place Monday, while Tuesday featured opening statements from prosecuting and defense attorneys. Tuesday was also about testimonies from the crime scene, heard testimony from the 911 caller and nephew of the victim, first responder and Newton firefighter/paramedic Todd Van Manen, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty, Jasper County Chief Deputy Duane Rozendaal and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation — Criminalistics Laboratory Criminalist Andrew Gladfelter.

As previously reported by the Newton Daily News, Linderman was arrested after officials connected him to the death of Berber last year. Berber was found dead inside of his rural Newton home. Linderman pleaded not guilty in July.

Officials received a 911 call March 6 to 4252 Maple St. in rural Newton, in reference to an unresponsive person. When law enforcement and Newton Fire and EMS officials arrived, they found Berber lying on the floor unresponsive.

If convicted, Linderman faces a life sentence in prison.

Linderman has reportedly resided in Jasper County for the past two years. He is a registered sex offender who was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 2001 in Floyd County.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or oshawl@newtondailynews.com

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