Evidentiary hearing for man accused of killing stepdaughter

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Johnny Oquendo, the man accused of killing his step-daughter, stuffing her body in a suitcase and dumping her in the Hudson River in 2015 appeared in court Wednesday.

During the pre-trial hearing, the defense challenged some of the prosecution’s latest proposed testimony.

NEWS10 ABC’s cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom because the judge is still in the process of deciding what evidence and testimony will be allowed in next week’s trial.

The prosecution called two new witnesses to the stand, a Google employee and an FBI special agent, Wednesday morning.

The Google employee is a custodian of records for the locations’ history services. She maintained the records of all pinged locations from devices that use Google.

She says she testified on behalf of Google for the legal purposes a number of times.

When it came time for cross-examination from the defense attorney, he questioned her credibility.  He had her clarify to the court that she was not an expert in the science and technology that goes into tracking the location of a device and that she has no access to the actual algorithms that calculate the coordinates.

The FBI agent who testified says he relies heavily on Google location services for his investigations.

He says he has used it hundreds of times and that the locations of the devices connected to the crimes are accurate.

Defense Attorney William Roberts says neither witness was scientifically qualified and did not establish credibility.

There have been similar hearings in the past, most notably with the polygraph, which was ruled that while it may be an investigative tool, it’s not admissible in court.

“The proposed scientific testimony is not generally accepted as reliable. That is a threshold for any evidence that comes into a courtroom so we are just asking for this court ruling to decide if this is good science,” Roberts said.

The judge did not make a decision on Wednesday on whether any of this new testimony will be allowed in the trial.

He says a decision will be made in the coming days.

The trial is expected to begin on Monday.

District Attorney Joel Abelove was not available for comment on Wednesday.

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