The sweatshirt contained two hairs

A restaurant cook whom Ponce-Rocha went to pick up said Ponce-Rocha did not pick him up until 10:48 a.m., about five minutes before surveillance video showed the two returning to work. Luciano Sanchez-Ramos lives in the same apartment complex as Schneller. It took Sanchez a minute to put on his shoes and leave his apartment. The two did not make any stops along the way back and arrived at 10:53 a.m., according to surveillance video. Sanchez-Ramos said that Ponce-Rocha was wearing a white shirt when he picked him up. He did not see any blood nor did he see Ponce-Rocha wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt.

Sanchez was unavailable to testify. Attorneys agreed to use his statement to police in lieu of his testimony. Police Detective Matt Barnes testified earlier that it took about five-and-a-half minutes to drive between the restaurant and Sanchez-Ramos’ apartment. Jurors saw squad video of the drive. They also watched restaurant surveillance video showing Ponce-Rocha leaving and returning. Barnes also showed jurors a striped glove and four pairs of women’s underwear found in Ponce-Rocha’s bedroom. The glove matched one found in a plastic bag thrown away in a Dumpster outside the Mexican restaurant where Ponce-Rocha worked. Investigators also found Schneller’s cell phone and underwear in the bag.

Prosecutors will use the underwear evidence to explain Ponce-Rocha’s motive for killing Schneller: he wanted to steal her underwear to add to his collection. Detective Cord Buckner testified that Ponce-Rocha maintained the same story regarding his whereabouts the day of the murder during a four-hour police interview. Lt. Bill Kolb, who also took part in the interview four days after Schneller’s murder, testified that police found several cuts when they took pictures of Ponce-Rocha’s hands.  Ponce-Rocha told police a cut on his left thumb came from slicing onions, a wound on his left middle finger came from a lighter burn and cuts on the palm of his right hand came from sharpening knives.

BOLA TANGKAS