The hair, women's clothes and shoes found in the home of the man accused of killing Jeanine Harms did not belong to her, a top prosecutor said this week.
That conclusion only deepened the mystery of one of Silicon Valley's most notorious crimes -- the disappearance of the 42-year-old Los Gatos woman nearly a decade ago. But it didn't surprise the family of Maurice Nasmeh, who was gunned down in January in a vengeful attack by Harms' brother at a San Jose coffee shop.
Nasmeh's relatives found the items in a cabinet while they were cleaning out his San Jose home after he was killed and turned them over to police at the end of February for testing.
"The hair is basically a wig and has no evidentiary value to it," said Santa Clara County assistant district attorney Marc Buller, who now is supervising the 10-year-old case. "They're still doing some testing on the clothing, but it's improbable there's any connection because she wore size 7 shoes. These are 101/2 and the clothing looks way too big to fit."
Nasmeh's mother, who asked that her name not be used, said Friday that her son liked to dress up in costumes at Halloween and that the clothes and shoes may have been used for that. Her son wore size 9 shoes, she said.
In addition, "the gal he was engaged to wore wigs," the mother said. "He was engaged in 2009 but they broke up."
With the 10-year anniversary of the disappearance of Harms looming -- she was last seen on July
"This is the same physical evidence," Buller said. "It's not necessarily being tested in the same way."
The fiber samples are being tested at MicroTrace in Illinois, testing that "could not have been done earlier because of the expertise and equipment used by the current expert," he said.
Nasmeh was arrested in 2004 and jailed for more than two years until charges were dismissed in June 2007 after questions were raised about the original fiber evidence testing. A county lab analyst spent months testing the fibers only to have his results discredited because he failed certification tests required by his office. When Nasmeh was released, prosecutors promised to retest the evidence and refile charges a year later -- but that never happened.
"I think they're looking for somebody who will give them the right answer," Nasmeh's mother said. "So what if they match? She was in his car twice that night and he was in her car."
The two met on the night Harms had agreed to see a Santa Clara man she previously had stood up. Nasmeh and some friends were having drinks after work when Harms, who was waiting for her date, was invited to join their group.
Harms then drove Nasmeh and her date to another bar for more drinks and invited both to come home with her for a nightcap. Nasmeh said he followed her home and had expected the other man to show up as well.
The investigation originally focused on both men but then turned to Nasmeh only.
"We are trying to determine who committed the crime," Buller said. "That will be clear when we release our findings."
Buller, as his office consistently has done, declined to say why the testing is taking so long. He confirmed that all the testing "has to do with Maurice Nasmeh."
When results of the testing are released to the public, along with detailed reports on the district attorney's decision about the suspect, in midsummer, "somebody can look at it and see what our thought processes were," Buller said.
The information to be released also will include "a long explanation" as to why the testing took so long, he said.
Nasmeh's mother said the delay caused a double tragedy for her son -- as well as for the parents of Harms' brother, Wayne Sanchez, and she said she wishes investigators hadn't jumped to conclusions about her son. "They made up their minds so quickly, a lot of hate got generated and two people are dead because of it," she said, referring to Sanchez and her son. "With poor Maurice they ruined his life and now they've ruined any chance of him having a life. It's a shame."
Contact Linda Goldston at 408-920-5862.