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Correa trial continues with testimony on DNA evidence, phone tracking

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Red, blue, black and purple circles dotted a map on display in New London Superior Court on Tuesday.

Each color represented the whereabouts of a different cell phone on the night of Dec. 19, 2017, and early the next morning: blue for Kenneth Lindquist’s phone, purple for Janet Lindquist’s, black for Matthew Lindquist’s and red for a phone linked to Sergio Correa, the man accused of killing them. 

During testimony Tuesday, FBI Special Agent James J. Wines walked the jury through the location of each phone as their color-coordinated markers traveled across the map, their approximate locations lining up with the chain of events mapped out by state prosecutors in the case against Correa.

The trial for Correa, who faces 14 charges in the slayings of the Lindquists during a brutal home invasion, entered its 11th day on Tuesday. 

Wines, who had testified for hours at the beginning of the trial about text messages between Matthew Lindquist and a messaging app linked to Correa, took the stand again Tuesday to explain how he tracked the location of the phones using cell towers and data from phone companies.

Wines mapped out Correa’s phone’s movements from Hartford, to near the Lindquist’s Griswold home, to an area in Glastonbury near where Matthew Lindquist’s car was found set on fire and back to Hartford. 

Matthew Lindquist’s phone, he testified, followed a similar route. His phone pinged in Griswold as he exchanged texts and calls with Correa’s number, then in Glastonbury and Hartford as his brother and a friend tried desperately to reach him as his parents’ home burned to the ground. Between the hours of 11:40 p.m on Dec. 19 and the time he went silent early the next morning, Matthew only texted or called one number - the one linked to Correa.

Joseph Lopez, one of Correa’s defense attorney’s, cross-examined Wines briefly about whether he could be certain whether texts and calls from the number linked to Correa were coming from him. The agent said he could not. Wines also confirmed, after questioning from Lopez, that locations for the cell phone were approximate within a certain radius, not exact pinpoints. 

The jury also heard from forensic examiners including Melanie Russell, who took the stand with a box full of records and reports. She testified about DNA evidence from items including a t-shirt; a car door handle; a piece of hardwood flooring from the Lindquist home that contained traces of Janet Lindquist’s DNA; and a hair found in Matthew Lindquist’s mouth that could not be matched to him, Sergio Correa or the defendant’s adopted sister, Ruth Correa, who is charged as an accomplice in the murders.

A day earlier on Monday, the trial was interrupted by an emotional outburst from Tanisha Vicento, ex-girlfriend of the accused, who took the stand to testify against her former boyfriend. The outburst prompted Judge Hunchu Kwak to remove the jury and defense attorney Corrie-Anne Mainville to call for a mistrial - for the second time since the trial’s start. Judge Kwak denied the motion but ordered Vicento’s emotional remarks toward Correa be stricken from the record, according to Lopez. 

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Thomas DeLillo told the jury at the end of an early day Tuesday that despite taking a few recesses, the trial was making headway this week.

“Despite the stops and starts we are making good progress and are on schedule,” said DeLillo.

Attorney Lopez said he agreed that they were on track, as did the judge. 

“We are ahead of schedule and we hope to end this sooner rather than later,” said Kwak. 

Correa’s trial, which was significantly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was originally expected to take four to six weeks. Judge Kwak said last week that he expects the prosecution to be done calling witnesses by the end of this week. The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday in New London Superior Court Part A, where major crimes are heard.

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