Could New Evidence Clear Convicted Doctor?

Startling Data Could Free Imprisoned Man

It was a shocking murder in a Carlsbad spawned headlines across the country.

The accused, Dr. Samson Dubria, was the pride of his Filipino-American family.

The 1993 case revolved around a murder case from 17 years ago.

It began when 21-year-old Cincinnati native Jennifer Klapper died in a Carlsbad motel room.

The medical examiner's office initially found no cause of death. But weeks later, tests revealed traces of chloroform in Klapper's body.

As 10News reported at the time, Deputy District Attorney Tim Casserly, now a judge, theorized that Dubria used chloroform to sedate Klapper in order to rape her.

Casserly explained to 10News, "If she was killed in the commission of a rape; that makes it first-degree murder."

Klapper's family and Dubria's parents and relatives were all devastated by the events that would unfold in the courtroom.

In the highly publicized trial, the defense argued the DA had it wrong, pointing out that nobody had smelled chloroform in the motel room or on her body despite the chemical's highly pungent aroma.

Dubria's lawyer also argued blood and tissue samples were contaminated by chloroform used in the medical examiner's lab.

Still, it came down to the district attorney's contention of a diabolical doctor blinded by love. Casserely said, "She made it clear to him, as well, that she had no romantic interest in him."

Dubria was convicted and sentenced in 1993 to life without possibility of parole.

According to court transcripts, Dubria told the court at his sentencing, "I am innocent …convicted purely on the basis of hearsay and speculation."

"It was as if the whole sky dropped on us," Dubria's mother, Lourdes, told the 10News I-Team. "I cried and cried."

Dubria's appeals failed, and all hope seemed lost for his family who spent more than $1 million in legal bills.

But then what may be a major break in the case, new evidence was dug up by his new legal team, Tracy and Thor Emblem -- the same team who would eventually be able to free Kenneth Marsh, a man convicted for the death of his girlfriend's baby.

The key finding was Klapper's medical records. Apparently, jurors never saw them. If they had, they would have learned she was seen by doctors at least three times for "severe, rapid and strong heartbeat." This is the sort of evidence that might have changed the Dubria jury's verdict.

In fact, new court documents showed the pathologist who did the autopsy was unaware of Klapper's heart problems. As for the medical records, the medical examiner had never seen them before, neither had Dubria's original defense attorney Barry Bernstein.

Casserly, the prosecutor, insisted he turned Klapper's medical file over to the defense.

Dubria's new attorneys discovered the files in Klapper's hometown of Cincinnati. They argued that Klapper had died from natural causes, not murder, and the chloroform evidence provided by the district attorney was misleading.

Tracy and Thor Emblem claimed the prosecution used "junk science," outdated studies done in 1902 on blood sample analyses taken from dogs that had been treated with chloroform.

The contention is the trace amounts of chloroform in Klapper's tissue and blood samples were insufficient to cause death and the source of the chloroform is suspect.

It wouldn't be the first lab sample from San Diego's medical examiner where there would be an issue with contamination of evidence.

Because of publicity seeking prosecutor, medical examiner and detective in the case, Dubria's attorneys contend the investigation of him was biased.

The story was covered by news magazine shows "A Current Affair" and "Inside Edition," as well as national print media.

Two judges have said there is enough evidence that they would consider the case worth looking at again.

As lawyer Christopher Plourd, a Dubria consultant, told the I-Team, this is very unusual.

After reviewing the new evidence, James Jennings, a retired judge from Santa Barbara, said he might order a new trial.

At this time, there is no timeframe for a new trial but it might be in the very near future.

Meanwhile, thousands in San Diego's Filipino-American community signed petitions that Dubria be released.

Dubria's mother said, "It's time for him to come home. I'm praying hard for that."

For the record, many involved in the case refused to speak to the I-Team regarding this story, including Dubria's new defense team, the Emblems, Casserly, the medical examiner's office where pathologist Leena Jariwala was employed and Don Detar, the detective on the case from the Carlsbad Police Department.

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