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DNA tests linked a 51-year-old former auto-body shop owner to a mailed bomb that caused an explosion at a Winnipeg law office, court heard Tuesday.
Guido Amsel’s attempted-murder trial continued with testimony from an RCMP forensic lab specialist who reviewed all of the DNA evidence in the case, finding a match to a suspect.
DNA extracted from a pouch found at the scene matched explosion victim Maria Mitousis and the accused bomber, Amsel, Marc Lett testified. Lett, a reporting scientist at the RCMP’s forensic lab in Ottawa, said analysis of a stain on a zippered pouch at the scene — likely a mix of blood and other DNA — revealed two major contributors.
Lett determined some of the DNA belonged to Mitousis, who was Guido Amsel’s ex-wife’s lawyer. Mitousis lost her right hand in the July 3, 2015, explosion.
Mitousis previously testified she opened a package that contained a zippered pouch with a digital voice recorder inside. A note instructed her to press play to hear information purported to "help with your defence."
When she did, it exploded.
Lett said only one in two million people within the Canadian Caucasian population could have been contributors to the mixed DNA found on the pouch.
After he removed the DNA profile he said matched Mitousis, Lett said he was left with DNA from an unknown man. He compared it to blood samples from two possible suspects, and said it matched Amsel’s DNA.
"The estimated probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the Canadian Caucasian population with the same profile is one in 1.2 quintillion," Lett said.
A DNA sample from elsewhere on the pouch showed another, minor contributor, but it was too weak to analyze, so he couldn’t tell whose it was, Lett said.
Lett said he got clear results when he compared samples of DNA from Mitousis and Amsel to the DNA extracted from the pouch.
"They’re both completely in there. If you were to take their two (DNA) profiles and mix them together, this is the mixture you would get," he said.
Defence lawyer, Saheel Zaman, asked Lett how he knew the stain on the pouch had DNA from only two people.
"Specifically for this mixture, it was very, very well-balanced and it was very strong," Lett said, adding there was "definitively" a match to Mitousis’s DNA, so he was "very confident" the DNA belonged to her and one man.
Zaman questioned Lett about the assumptions he had to make in order to say the DNA matched Amsel’s with a one in 1.2-quintillion chance of belonging to someone else, including assuming only two people contributed to the DNA found on the pouch.
Amsel is German, and Lett acknowledged the probability estimate is only based on the Canadian Caucasian population.
"If it’s a rare (DNA) profile... it’s going to be rare in every single one of those different populations," Lett said, acknowledging "we do not have a German database" for DNA comparison.
Lett agreed he subtracted Mitousis’s DNA from the mixed profile, after finding her DNA elsewhere on the pouch, to reveal the DNA of an unknown man.
"It is within our methods guide and it’s recognized by the scientific community that this is a valid assumption to make," Lett said.
Amsel is accused of mailing three letter bombs targeting Mitousis, his ex-wife and his former lawyer in July 2015. The other two explosive packages were detonated in the presence of police bomb robots.
Amsel is also accused in a December 2013 explosion that left a charred crater in the front exterior wall of his ex-wife’s home in the RM of St. Clements.
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Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.