By Ashton Goodell
Channel 2 News
2:20 PM AKDT, June 7, 2011
On the witness stand Tuesday, the lead investigator on the Bonnie Craig murder case, Trooper Curt Harris, said he made a mistake early on by speculating on what happened to Craig. The day of Craig's death, Harris told the victim's family there was no evidence of foul play, telling them Craig's death was just an unfortunate accident.
"I said the wrong thing. I chose a route that would seem to make this something that wasn't as serious as it turned out to be," said Harris.
Soon after they found evidence of sperm on the victim, his theory that the fall was just an accident changed and a full murder investigation ensued.
During the prosecution's questioning of the trooper Monday, Harris walked the jury through dozens of crime scene photographs. It is estimated investigators took nearly 400 photographs of the crime scene, including: aerial and panoramic photos, photographs of where the body was found, shots of the surrounding crime scene, and a video recording of the scene.
The defense questioned why the trooper hadn't taken close-up photographs of a leaf found with blood on it, the slide marks near the cliff Craig fell from, or forensic photos of some broken foliage at the scene.
The defense also asked the trooper why some leads weren't followed up on for months, pointing to a report made by a hiker, Arndt Von Hippel, who claims he had seen Craig alive at McHugh Creek the morning of her death. The trooper said the hiker's account didn't gel with the information they had gathered up to that point in the case.
Harris said he always thought von Hippel was mistaken. Von Hippel is expected to testify that he saw Craig skipping down a trail, seemingly happy, with a group of college-aged kids. He later identified Craig from a line-up and gave police a description of what she was wearing. His testimony is expected Wednesday morning.
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