Expert testifies that cadaver dog gave signals about toddler in D'Andre Lane's car, house

Expert testifies that cadaver dog gave signals about toddler in D'Andre Lane's car, house
4 October 2012
Detroit Free Press Staff Writers
Tammy Stables Battaglia and Melanie Scott Dorsey

A cadaver dog with what handlers call near-perfect accuracy passed 30 cars in an impound lot before alerting on a silver Mercury Grand Marquis driven by a Detroit father charged with killing his 2-year-old daughter.

But defense attorneys for D'Andre Lane, 32, questioned whether the dog's response was authentic because the body of Lane's daughter, Bianca Jones, has not been found.

Prosecutors said Lane, who is on trial in Wayne County County Circuit Court, killed Bianca after a potty-training accident and tried to cover it up by calling police on Dec. 2 to report she was taken in a carjacking.

Police found Lane's car running several blocks away from the alleged carjacking site, but the toddler was missing. Prosecutors say the child is presumed dead.

Dog handler and FBI contractor Martin Grime testified during Lane's trial Wednesday that he and his two English springer spaniels -- Morse and Keela --flew from England to Washington, D.C., then drove to Detroit on Dec. 4 to search for Bianca.

Local investigators took Grime and Morse, who is trained to detect decomposing human remains, to an enclosed garage at the Detroit Police Department's impound lot. Inside, he released Morse, leading him through a maze of 31 parked cars, including Lane's silver Mercury.

"He went underneath Mr. Lane's car then came out and barked ... like woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof," Grime said, adding that he wasn't told that the silver Mercury was Lane's until after the search was complete.

"What was the response what you opened the door and the trunk, sir?" Assistant Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb asked.

"There was a positive response -- the dog barked continuously," he said, adding that the dog didn't bark at any other cars.

He said they then went to a Detroit Police Department evidence room, where investigators wrapped Bianca's car seat in brown paper and hid it in an office within a number of rooms.

Grime said there was no response during the first search, when the car seat was sealed inside the brown paper. He then asked officers to put a slit in the paper and move the car seat to another room.

"The second time, when the dog got close to the package, he put his nose in the package and gave a positive response," Grime said.

Investigators then set up a search in another warehouse using Bianca's blanket that had been in the car seat. Grime said the dog barked when it came across a brown paper bag on the floor with the blanket inside.

"Were you aware of where any of these items were going to be when Morse signaled on them?" Goldfarb asked,

"No," Grime said, adding that he can't force the dog to bark continuously and he never saw the actual car seat or blanket.

Grime said he then took Morse to Lane's house, where Morse sat and barked in Bianca's bedroom, close to the opening of a door-less closet.

"Have the results you've come up with ever been contradicted?" Judge Vonda Evans asked. He said no.

But Lane's attorney, Terry Johnson, raised questions about the dog's ability to detect decomposition during his cross-examination.

"You have no way of telling what Morse responded to at any location?" Johnson asked Grime.

"He gave us a positive response," Morse said. "The corroboration would normally be to find a cadaver or bone or blood that you can see."

"The dog did not give a positive response to the clothing worn by Mr. Lane, correct?" Johnson asked.

"No," Grime said.

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