Summary:

Paragraphs 12 & 13 read: "Ferdinand Vistro was found by relatives the evening of March 21, 2005, in the bedroom where Vida Vistro's body was found. He was groggy from an apparent sleeping pill overdose."

"Appel said his tests revealed therapeutic levels of Restoril, a drug commonly used as a sleeping aid and to treat anxiety, and the presence of an anti-depressant. There was also a slight amount of alcohol in Vistro's system, Appel said."

Last two paragraphs read: "On cross examination, Salas asked Appel if the drugs found in Vistro's body would affect a person to the degree that he would have trouble walking, talking and thinking clearly."

"Appel answered that he has seen people on Restoril have difficulty with actions as simple as writing the alphabet."

http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2006/10/26/news/centralcoast/news05.txt



Witness: Only prints found on bags belonged to defendant

By Samantha Yale/Staff writer

Ferdinand Vistro's fingerprints were the only ones found on plastic trash bags prosecutors allege he used to suffocate his estranged wife last year, according to testimony Wednesday from a fingerprint expert.

Burt Hirahara, a latent print analyst with the state Department of Justice, shared his findings about the fingerprints during testimony in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria.

Vistro, 40, is accused of murdering Vida Vistro, 38, on March 21, 2005, in the master bedroom of the Santa Maria house the former couple once shared.

After Hirahara answered the prosecution's questions about the finger and palm prints found on the trash bags, defense attorney Victor Salas Jr. asked Hirahara if he could tell when the fingerprints were left on the bag. Hirahara replied that he could not.

Nicole Inacio, a senior criminologist with the Department of Justice, testified that DNA likely belonging to both Ferdinand Vistro and Vida Vistro was found on one of the three trash bags taken from the crime scene.

DNA evidence taken from a trash bag that was found with tape attached to it showed a high likelihood of being Vida Vistro's. A small amount of DNA from another person was also found in that bag, but it was not enough to determine who the contributor was, Inacio said. A head hair found in the bag with tape on it turned out to have been Vida Vistro's, she testified.

A third trash bag found in the trash can of the master bedroom contained DNA that likely belonged the Vida Vistro and from two other people, neither of them the defendant, Ignacio testified.

DNA tests conducted on sweatpants Vida Vistro was wearing at the time of her death and a fitted sheet from her bed both revealed semen having a high likelihood of being from the defendant, Inacio said.

That and other evidence gathered at the scene suggested that the couple had sexual intercourse, she said.

Wednesday was the third day of testimony in the case.

Countering the allegations made by deputy district attorneys Ann Bramsen and Megan Baldwin, Salas has asserted that Vida Vistro killed herself.

Other testimony Wednesday came from Timothy Appel, a forensic toxicologist with the Department of Justice, who spoke about his findings from tests on Ferdinand Vistro's blood and urine.

Ferdinand Vistro was found by relatives the evening of March 21, 2005, in the bedroom where Vida Vistro's body was found. He was groggy from an apparent sleeping pill overdose.

Appel said his tests revealed therapeutic levels of Restoril, a drug commonly used as a sleeping aid and to treat anxiety, and the presence of an anti-depressant. There was also a slight amount of alcohol in Vistro's system, Appel said.

Appel said he couldn't testify to the precise amount of Restoril found in Vistro's system, or estimate the time the drug was taken.

“These are definitely not fatal or lethal levels,” he said.

On cross examination, Salas asked Appel if the drugs found in Vistro's body would affect a person to the degree that he would have trouble walking, talking and thinking clearly.

Appel answered that he has seen people on Restoril have difficulty with actions as simple as writing the alphabet.

Samantha Yale can be reached at 739-2159 or syale@santamariatimes.com .

Oct. 26, 2006