Maui News

Capobianco Trial: Recovered Jawbone is a “Match” to Charli Scott

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By Wendy Osher

J. Mickey Damerell DDS, MS testifies in the ongoing murder trial of Steven Capobianco. In this image, he shows jurors consistencies in X-ray images. Photo by Wendy Osher, 9.8.16.

J. Mickey Damerell DDS, MS testifies in the ongoing murder trial of Steven Capobianco. In this image, he shows jurors consistencies in X-ray images. Photo by Wendy Osher, 9.8.16.

Pointing out at least 10 consistencies, a Maui orthodontist confirmed that a jawbone found at Nuaʻailua in East Maui during the search for Carly “Charli” Scott, was a “match” to the missing woman.

Dr. John Mickey Damerell DDS, MS made the determination after comparing X-rays from the recovered mandible to those taken two years earlier when Scott had gone in for an assessment.

Demerell: Fillings “Definitely the Same Person”

“In comparing the X-ray we took when she came in in 2012 for an ortho exam with the X-ray that I took of the jaw bone… the fillings in the back molars are definitely the same person,” said Damerell during a hearing in which the judge determined his ability to offer expert testimony.

Damerell has been practicing on Maui for the past 30 years, and operates out of his Maui Smile Works office on Lower Main Street in Wailuku.  He said he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1974 and Masters of Science in Orthodontics in 1977, both at Loma Linda University; and gained board certification in 1990.


“We deal with orthodontics–straight teeth–so we deal with aligning the teeth in jaws.  We try to get the bite correct so that they don’t get excessive wear in the posterior teeth or get problems with their jaw joints; and then we of course try to make them look nice so they have a beautiful smile,” Demerell explained.

“You can pickup things on the xrays that you cant see with the eye. For example, you can see cavities that are between the teeth–two teeth like this–and there might be a hole here and here, that you can’t see with the naked eye, but you can see it on the xray,” said Demerell, who noted that in his practice, he also looks for impacted, extra and missing teeth.

Demerell said that lead Detective Wendell Loo and Evidence Specialist Anthony Earls with the Maui Police Department brought the jaw bone to his office on Feb. 19, 2014, in an effort to determine if it belonged to Scott.  He said they figured out a way to prop it up using clay so that he could shoot X-rays of the individual teeth and take a panoramic X-ray of the jawbone.

“Once we had them on a computer, I compared them and decided that it was Charli Scott,” said Demerell during the hearing.

In all, Demerell pointed to 10 locations that offered consistencies between the X-rays that led to his determination.


“Very Unlikely” Another Person’s Jaw Would Have All 10 of Those Things:

“On (tooth number) 19 here, this is a very unique filling because number one it has this little isthmus here.  You rarely see that,” he said.

“This is a really interesting filling.  It’s so unique because it has that little isthmus and then someone patched it with some composite on the back side, so you don’t see that very often. Usually a dentist would take the whole thing out and put the whole thing new–so it would all be composite, or it would all be silver.  There wouldn’t be two types of material together,” said Demerell.

He said that in his practice, he is looking at the anatomy of the individual teeth, and how they sit with each other, as well as the fillings.  “The fillings are extremely telling because every filling is different. No dentist puts in the same filling two times,” said Dr. Demerell.

Demerell explained that the fillings can show up as different colors on the X-ray depending on the type of material used, with gold showing up as white and resin appearing as a different shade of gray.  He also said that the shape and preparation made on a tooth before a filling goes in is also unique.  “If you have a person and the shape of this and the colors and everything match up, you wouldn’t find that in a second person,” said Demerell.

Demerell also found consistencies in ridge shape, angle, fillings, coloring and overlaps in a list of at least 10 teeth total.

“I’ve identified about 10 things that match… It’s very unlikely that another person’s jaw would have all 10 of those things,” said Dr. Demerell.

One Inconsistency: Cracked Tooth in Recovered Jawbone

He did find one difference in the images saying, “One thing that’s interesting here, this tooth is cracked,” said Dr. Demeral, who cross reference the earlier X-ray of the same tooth, which showed no crack.

Explaining further, he said the crack was in the mesial root of tooth #30. He noted consistencies in the tooth saying that both images showed a lower back side and a “zig-zag along the middle.”


How Demerell Came to Know Scott:

Demerell said he first came to know Scott in November of 2012 when she came in with her sister Phaedra Wais who was at his office for an exam.

“I only knew her through Phaedra, he said, noting that the family had come in and was excited. “She (Phaedra Wais) was already almost 15 or 16, and was really happy she was finally getting treatment.”

Scott ended up making an appointment as well, and came in on March 20, 2012, during which Damerell said a panoramic X-ray was taken of her teeth, followed by a half hour explanation and summary along with a presentation of treatment options.  Damerell said Scott never came back, but her records remained on file.

On cross exam, defense attorney Jon Apo asked how he remembered Scott out of the hundreds of patients that he sees in a year, and how he knew the X-rays were hers.

Demerell responded saying the X-rays are kept on file and described her as an extrovert. “It’s not like she’s a wilting flower.  She’s extroverted, she’s happy, she (Charli Scott) was excited for her sister.  She’s a person that I remember,” he said.

Evidence Specialist Testifies:

Maui Police Evidence Specialist Anthony Earls also testified, explaining the process of evidence recovery and the handling of evidence during different portions of the investigation.

In addition to the transfer of the jawbone to Demerell’s office on Feb. 19, 2014, Earls said he also prepared the items to be sent over to Honolulu on March 22, 2014, for analysis at the Hickam Air Force Base, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory, for basic forensic analysis.

Earls is subject to recall for additional testimony as the trial continues.

Case History/Background:

Steven Capobianco is standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott.  he is also accused of setting her vehicle on fire.

Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the days following Charli Scott’s disappearance, Capobianco had done an interview with police in which he said Scott had picked him up on the night of Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, and dropped him off at his truck that got stuck Keʻanae on Feb. 8, 2014.

According to the account, both headed back to Haʻikū, with Scott following Capobianco in case his vehicle broke down again.  Scott was reported missing the next night on Feb. 10, 2014, after she failed to show up for work and did not return phone calls and messages from her family members.

The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.

***Check back for a separate report detailing the testimony of Detective Nelson Hamilton, who was involved in the recovery of the jawbone, as well as fingernails and a body piercing from Nuaʻailua during the search for Scott.  He was among the individuals who also offered testimony on Wednesday. 


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