Preliminary exam begins in 2004 murder case

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Detroit 36th District Court Judge Katherine Hansen halted a preliminary examination Nov. 1 against a 2004 murder suspect due to time constraints.

The examination against Dearborn Heights resident Oussama Talal Othman was to resume Nov. 8.

Othman, 43, is alleged to have beaten to death Dearborn resident Margaret Sheppard Webb in 2004. According to a press release issued by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office in July, Sheppard Webb’s body was discovered in the 2800 block of Scotten in Detroit. She suffered severe head trauma and her body was burned.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Othman in July with first-degree murder, which carries a maximum term of life in prison.

Othman was found competent to stand trial Sept. 15 by 36th District Court Judge Joseph Baltimore.

Gina Pineda, a DNA consultant at Louisiana-based GMP Forensic Consultants LLC, testified by telephone that the results of a saliva test on Sheppard Webb in May of 2007 revealed that a male subject came into contact with her before she died. She said the test revealed a genetic marker identifying a male chromosome was found on Sheppard Webb’s body.

There was no basis for comparison, however, since the DNA lab did not have a sample of the male subject’s DNA in a national DNA database used by law enforcement, so no positive identification could be made on the subject.

The attorney for Othman, Canton Township-based Nabih Ayad, argued that Pineda did not have enough prior knowledge of the case to conduct the report since she did not perform the test. Pineda said they were performed by an associate in her office.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)