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Ex-Detective Probed 2 Slayings : Testimony at Lucas Trial Focuses on Note at Scene

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Times Staff Writer

The trial of David A. Lucas, accused of murder, continued Monday with the cross-examination of a former San Diego police detective who investigated two of six slayings the former Spring Valley carpet cleaner is charged with committing.

Defense attorney Steven Feldman spent nearly all day questioning Gary Gleason about evidence he discovered at the home of Suzanne Jacobs, 31, and her 3-year-old son, Colin, who were found with their throats slashed on May 4, 1979.

Much of the testimony focused on a note found on the bathroom floor that prosecutors say ties Lucas to the Jacobs killings. The note bore the words “Love Insurance” and a telephone number, and prosecutors say Lucas purchased a Love Insurance policy soon after the slayings.

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But the note was nearly destroyed after investigators treated it with a chemical to better examine a fingerprint. And, although Gleason said he requested that the note and fingerprint be photographed, no such photos have ever been found.

Feldman sought to use the fate of the note and photographs to suggest that police were shoddy in their investigative work and handling of evidence. In a similar vein, he asked Gleason why he failed to collect and examine a cigarette butt and other items found in the Jacobs’ home.

In addition to the Jacobs slayings, Lucas, 33, is charged with the December, 1981, slaying of real estate agent Gayle Garcia; the October, 1984, killings of Rhonda Strang, 24, and Amber Fisher, 3, who she was baby-sitting; the November, 1984, slaying of Anne Catherine Swanke, 20; and the attempted murder of Jodie Santiago Robertson, 35, of Seattle, in June, 1984. He also is charged with two counts of kidnaping.

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