Kaitlyn A. Conley’s DNA was found on the bottle of colchicine used to poison and kill Dr. Mary L. Yoder. DNA scientist Amy Nestlerode was the first witness to take the stand in Conley’s murder trial this morning and she told the jury that she found DNA evidence from three different people on the bottle. She said Conley was the “major contributor.”
Nestlerode told the jury that William Yoder’s DNA profile was similar to the other two DNA samples, but there was not enough evidence to make a firm conclusion about whether or not he touched the bottle. He is the victim’s husband.
”I was unable to exclude him,” Nestlerode testified, but “no conclusion can be made.”
Nestlerode said firmly this morning that Adam Yoder’s DNA was not found on the bottle. He is the victim’s son and the defense is arguing that Adam Yoder is the real killer. Nestlerode said she did not test to see if Mary Yoder’s DNA was on the bottle.
Nestlerode is a forensic scientist with the Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences in a Syracuse.
Conley, 24, of Sauquoit, is accused of poisoning her boss, Dr. Mary L. Yoder, with colchicine on July 20, 2015. Conley is charged with second-degree murder and is on trial for the second time. Conley’s first trial ended with a hung jury.
Following the emotional testimony of Conley’s ex-boyfriend, Adam Yoder, on Monday, the District Attorney’s Office spent today and Tuesday laying out more technical and factual evidence. On Tuesday, witnesses discussed the complicated steps one must take to order colchicine off the internet.
Rosa Vargas, a former sales rep for ArtChemical.com, took the stand Tuesday and testified about the order of colchicine made through her company. Vargas also testified at the first trial.
Vargas testified that someone made an order for one gram of colchicine through ArtChemical.com on Jan. 5, 2015, and that she was responsible for seeing the order through. Vargas said the order was made by someone using the name “Adam Yoder” and the email address “email@example.com”, and that they were buying for “Chiro Family Care” in Whitesboro. The Yoder family owns Chiropractic Family Care.
Vargas testified that ArtChemical sold colchicine through another company called Spectrum Chemical, but there was a difference in the price between ArtChemical and Spectrum.
“I have to get the customer’s approval for the higher price,” Vargas explained.
When the telephone number that was provided in the order form did not work, Vargas testified that she looked up “Chiro Family Care” on the internet and found the matching address of Chiropractic Family Care. She said she used telephoned Chiropractic Family Care to confirm the higher price of the colchicine.
“It was a soft, female, very kind person on the other side” of the line, Vargas testified. “Young.”
Vargas said she did not ask for “Adam Yoder” by name, nor did she get the name of the woman she was speaking with on the phone. Vargas said that after speaking with the woman, the sale of colchicine went through.
Vargas testified that she spoke with the same woman a second time several days later and corresponded several times with the “mradamyoder1990” email address about the sale.
Vargas said that the buyer needed to provide a letter of intent for the colchicine and a W9 tax form to confirm that Chiro Family Care was a real business. By Jan. 14, 2015, Vargas said she had the proper paperwork, and that the letter of intent seemed to be signed by both Dr. Mary Yoder and Adam Yoder. When he testified on Monday, Yoder looked at the letter of intent and told the jury that was not his signature. The colchicine was delivered to Chiropractic Family Care on Feb. 6, 2015, according to testimony. Conley signed for the delivery.
Samuel Vande, a forensic chemist with the Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences, testified that he ran several tests for the Sheriff’s Office to determine if there was colchicine in any of the food items leftover at the Yoder clinic. Vande said he found no traces of colchicine.
Vande said he also tested the Alpha Brain pills that Adam Yoder said made him sick in April 2015, and which he said were given to him by Kaitlyn Conley. Vande said there were 28 pills left in the 30-pill bottle and none of them had traces of colchicine.
Yoder testified on Monday that he took three Alpha Brain pills.
Michael Capetta, of Spectrum Chemical, testified on Tuesday that the safety warnings sent out with orders of colchicine advise buyers to wear goggles, gloves and dust masks to protect your eyes, skin and mouth from the colchicine.
Conley’s defense has repeatedly pointed out that Adam Yoder had goggles, gloves and dust masks in his jeep.
Thomas Johnson, of U.S. Bank, testified that someone purchased a $200 prepaid debit card in New Hartford on Jan. 5, 2015. He said the card was charged three days later for $189.22, the cost of the colchicine from ArtChemical. Johnson said the card was registered under the name “Adam Yoder” with the “mradamyoder1990” email address.
First Assistant Public Defender Kurt Schultz testified that he spoke briefly via telephone with Adam Yoder prior to the Sheriff’s Office searching Yoder’s vehicle on Dec. 8, 2015. The anonymous letter told investigators that the colchicine could be found under the front passenger seat in the jeep, but Yoder testified Monday that he did not know anything was in his jeep.
Yoder testified that he wanted to speak to an attorney before agreeing to the search.
Schultz testified Tuesday that, after speaking with Yoder for a few minutes, he advised Yoder to allow investigators to search his jeep. Schultz told the jury, “He was concerned that an ex-girlfriend hated him and possibly placed marijuana in his vehicle.”