Capital murder trial focuses on police dog evidence


Homicide investigator Sgt. Brian Harris with the Harris County Sheriff's Office took the stand in the trial of Mona Nelson. Harris interviewed Nelson multiple times after the crime occurred.

Her lawyer, Alan Tanner, filed a motion to exclude hours of statements she made to police, but the judge allowed them.

Nelson is charged with capital murder of 12-year-old Jonathan Foster, who was killed in December 2010. After telling another detective that her truck was the same one shown on surveillance video at the scene where the boy's burned body was dumped, Harris said she changed her story telling him:

"That it looked like her truck but it was not her," Sgt. Harris said. "She gave a drinking location."

Once under arrest, Harris said Nelson's demeanor changed.

Sgt. Harris testified, "She has a big crocodile tear coming down her face. She's saying that she's not a monster, that she's a grandmother, that she has children."

Earlier in the day, two cadaver dog experts, HPD K-9 unit Sergeant Jeffrey Bickel and his wife Janae testified that three different dogs trained to detect dead bodies reacted strongly to a box of burned carpeting at Nelson's home.

Sgt. Bickel testified, "There was a very strong odor of human remains there."

There was also an arborist -- an expert in trees -- on the stand who said the leaves at the scene where the body was dumped were primarily from post oak trees. He located one post oak tree that was "five football fields away" from the site, but testified that there were seven of those trees surrounding Nelson's property.

Also on Tuesday, prosecutors played for the jury a videotaped statement that Nelson made to police. Nelson made several such statements, and in this one in particular, she admitted that she was at the site where Jonathan's body was later found. She said she dumped something from a garbage can out of her pickup truck that night, but she claimed to not know what that was.

Nelson's attorney also pointed the finger again at Jonathan's stepfather, David Davis, who was ruled out as a suspect.

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