Murder accused loses bid for new trial
EXPERT evidence about visible traces of blood on a sooty knife could not save a man jailed for strangling, stabbing and setting fire to his estranged wife at her parents' Caboolture home.
Jason Michael Spina has always argued his second wife, Haley Elizabeth Allison, 26, produced a knife, threw petrol on him and set him alight.
He claims he hosed himself down to extinguish the fire but her actions provoked him to attack her with a knife.
But the prosecution, during his trial last year, rejected his version and argued he poured petrol on her dead body to conceal his crime and, inadvertently, suffered severe burns himself.
The Crown submitted his crime was only uncovered because the pain from his burns became intolerable and he had to call an ambulance the next morning.
A jury convicted Spina of murder after an 11-day trial and he was jailed for life.
Spina, who was 37 when he killed her in December, 2009, has now lost his bid for a new trial after the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed his application to present new evidence.
His legal team submitted a university professor, who was an expert in scientific and forensic photography, could give evidence that red could be seen over the black in photos of the knife used to kill Ms Allison.
They argued that if blood was visible on top of the soot, it disproved the Crown case and supported Spina's version he killed her after she burned him.
The professor told the appeal judges that blood was translucent so light passed through it where as soot was dense and absorbed light.
A police scientific officer did not notice any blood marks or stains on top of the soot marks when he examined and photographed the knife.
But Justice Margaret McMurdo, supported by two fellow appeal judges, found that evidence was not "fresh" and could have been presented at trial.
She said even if the jury did accept there was some blood over the soot, there were many other aspects the jury would have considered to reach their verdict.
Justice McMurdo said there was no smoke damage to Ms Allison's lungs, burn and blood marks suggest she was killed where her body was found and a lack of burnt carpet under body suggested she was burned after she died.
"Blood could have been transferred onto the knife in some unexplained way consistent with the prosecution case after the deceased's body was burned," she said.