Police close off the St Mary's churchyard following the discovery of Wayne Warren Ruks' body. - File photo
Police close off the St Mary's churchyard following the discovery of Wayne Warren Ruks' body. - File photo

Dna puts accused at murder scene

DNA AND fingerprint evidence has put two men accused of the Maryborough churchyard killing of Wayne Warren Ruks at the scene of the crime.

Jason Andrew Pearce, 38, and Richard John Meerdink, 40, have pleaded not guilty to the bashing murder of 45-year-old Mr Ruks in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church on July 3 last year.

Mr Ruks' body was found the following morning, lying in between a metal structure and garden bed in the churchyard.

A wine bladder and beer glass were found next to the body.

DNA samples matching those of both the accused were found at the scene, the Maryborough Supreme Court was told yesterday.

A police fingerprint expert said prints matching Pearce's and Meerdink's were also found.

Forensic scientist Alicia Quarterman, who works in the DNA Unit at Queensland Health, said a swab taken from the metal pole in the churchyard had a full DNA profile that matched Pearce's.

The likelihood the sample did not come from Pearce or someone related to him was one in 88 billion, Ms Quarterman told the court as she gave evidence over the phone.

A partial profile lifted from the beer glass matched Meerdink's DNA, with just a one in 2.5 billion chance it was not his.

Sergeant Bruce Macrailed, who specialises in fingerprint examination, said prints lifted from the park bench at the scene matched Pearce's. And Meerdink's fingerprints were found on the beer glass, he said.

Two more prints taken from the metal pole were unidentifiable but he could not rule out the possibility that they were the defendants'.

A video-taped interview between Pearce and police was played for the court and showed Pearce telling the officers he did not know Mr Ruks and had not been in a fight with anyone on the night Mr Ruks died.

Julie Cullen, Pearce's former girlfriend, gave evidence that Pearce and Meerdink arrived at the home she shared with her partner about 10.30pm on July 3 and were “drinking and laughing” at the kitchen table. She said nothing seemed “out of the ordinary”. The following day Pearce was so hung over he did not go to work, Ms Cullen said, and she noticed he was limping but didn't ask how he had hurt himself.

Pearce allegedly told police later on that he had tripped over his dog and fallen down the stairs.

The trial continues today.



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