Microscopic DNA particles on a worn, dirty black T-shirt have emerged at trial as the only physical link between alleged kidnapper Christina Regusters and the 5-year-old girl taken last year from a West Philadelphia school and sexually assaulted.
That was the conclusion of a Philadelphia police DNA analyst who on Thursday described for a Common Pleas Court jury the results of his examination of objects taken from the West Philadelphia house where the child was allegedly held and assaulted.
Brian Pfleegor, a police forensic scientist and DNA analyst, told the jury hearing Regusters' kidnapping-sexual assault trial that police recovered no DNA belonging to the young victim at the house at 6243 Walton Ave. where Regusters lived.
Nor did the rape kit performed on the child yield any assailant's DNA or body fluids, Pfleegor said. Broken broom handles from the house that police suspected might have been used to inflict the child's devastating internal injuries, also tested negative.
The black T-shirt was the only thing the child wore when she was found, half-naked and shivering, in an Upper Darby playground before dawn Jan. 15, 2013 - one day after she was abducted from Bryant Elementary School at 6001 Cedar Ave.
Pfleegor testified that DNA from three people was found on the shirt: from Regusters, the child, and Nelson Mandela Myers, the pedestrian walking to work who found the child, took her in his arms, and called police.
Regusters has denied any involvement in the girl's kidnapping and says she was at the Walton Avenue home, ill and in bed virtually the entire day. Her lawyer has argued that other relatives living in the house could have committed the crime.
The little girl testified in court and on several videos made after her abduction that she was eating breakfast in her kindergarten class at Bryant when she was picked up by a woman covered in Muslim attire.
The child said the woman took her to a strange house where she was blindfolded, kept naked under a bed, and sexually assaulted by a man she never saw or heard.
Early the next morning, the girl testified, a teenager named "China" woke her, gave her the black T-shirt and carried her to the playground, told her to "yell for the police," and then left.
Regusters' childhood nickname was China, witnesses have testified.
Assistant District Attorneys Erin O'Brien and Jessalyn Gillum maintain there was only one assailant - Regusters - who created the other personas to mislead the girl and investigators.
Thursday's trial session was much calmer than that on Wednesday, when Regusters' emotional outburst ended the day early.
Confronted by a witness - her cousin - who accused her of groping her 9-year-old daughter, Regusters, called the woman a liar and screamed, "I never touched your child!"
Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart on Thursday warned Regusters that she would be put in a holding cell off the courtroom and watch the trial via closed-circuit television if there was another outburst.
Defense attorney W. Fred Harrison Jr. then finished questioning Regusters' cousin and the cousin's sister without further disruption.
Regusters has not been criminally charged in the alleged incident with her cousin's 9-year-old daughter. Prosecutors, however, introduced the testimony as relevant conduct that could convince the jury Regusters had a motive and was capable of kidnapping and molesting the girl.