General Crime

* San Jose Preliminary Hearing On The 1975 Murder Of Sandra Howard Her Alleged Murderer Edward Dees

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A preliminary hearing began in Santa Clara County Superior Court today for a man charged with the 1975 rape and murder of a San Jose woman.After more than 34 years, prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to convict Edward Dees, 60, in the long-unsolved killing of Sandra Howard on April 21, 1975.Howard was a 23-year-old newlywed who lived with her husband in the 200 block of Richfield Drive in San Jose. After she failed to show up to her job as a teacher at a local kindergarten, police found her in her apartment, lying on her bed strangled with a necktie and stabbed with a knife, according to prosecutor Jeff Rosen. Investigators found semen stains on the sheets, according to Rosen, but DNA testing did not exist at the time.”Police investigated different suspects but they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest anybody at the time,” he said. In recent years, San Jose investigators began re-examining the physical evidence from cold cases, in hopes of finding new leads in DNA samples. Technicians examined evidence from Howard’s case and on Dec. 14, 2006, reported a match with Dees, according to San Jose police reports.  Dees’ information was in the state database as a result of his prior felony convictions. He has been in custody since 1975 on multiple rape convictions, according to Rosen. Dees has pleaded not guilty to Howard’s murder.In today’s hearings, retired crime scene investigator Gordon Sherman recalled the evidence he catalogued at the scene of Howard’s death in an era where investigators did not wear gloves and transported much of their evidence in paper bags.In 1975,investigators marked evidence with a Sharpie or, if the object was metal, with a little diamond-tipped engraver, he said. Many of the evidence photos presented to Sherman showed his own distinctive marking on the item.The hearing will resume Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. Judge
Kenneth Shapero will hear testimony from the criminalist who supervised the DNA testing, another crime scene investigator and several of Dees’ rape victims, according to Rosen. Shapero could make a decision on a trial as soon as Wednesday afternoon, he said.

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