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WIESBADEN, Germany — Defense attorneys for the Wiesbaden soldier accused of fatally stabbing another man in a nightclub last April expect to begin arguing their case Thursday, military attorneys said Wednesday.

On the third day of testimony at the general court-martial of Pvt. Nestor K. Velazquez, prosecutors called three DNA experts and a forensics specialist to the stand.

The three DNA experts concluded that the blood of the victim, Santo Scardino, was found on Velazquez’s clothes and knife, the presumed murder weapon.

Scardino was stabbed to death early on April 18 in a popular nightclub in Mainz-Kastel. Scardino, 18, Velazquez, a second soldier and several of the victim’s friends were involved in a dispute that escalated into a brawl.

Velazquez is on trial for one count of unpremeditated murder in Scardino’s death.

One witness for the prosecution said glasses, beer bottles and ashtrays were thrown during the melee.

Earlier Wednesday, Debra Glidewell, an American DNA expert, testified that Scardino’s blood was found on the accused’s clothing and knife. She also said Velazquez’s DNA was found on the knife, along with the blood of the victim and at least one other man.

Aside from Scardino, three other men suffered knife wounds in the fight.

Defense attorneys concede that Velazquez brandished a knife during the fight, but they maintain it was in self-defense.

Pfc. Anquan Huggins, the other soldier involved in the brawl, testified earlier in the week that Scardino and his friends attacked Huggins and Velazquez while they made their way to the bathroom.

On Wednesday afternoon, Peter Schmidt, a medical doctor and deputy of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Frankfurt, said Scardino had five knife wounds. The fatal wound, Schmidt said, occurred on Scardino’s side, near his heart, damaging the left chamber of the heart muscle.

“This particular stab wound was executed with great force,” Schmidt said.

On cross-examination, Schmidt agreed with defense attorneys that three of the five wounds were superficial.

Lawyers for Velazquez have brought up during the trial the presence of a second suspect, a Moroccan man, who was near the scene. Glidewell, the DNA expert, told prosecutors that the clothing of the second suspect, who was later detained, had no bloodstains. During cross-examination, defense attorneys argued that that did not indicate the second suspect wasn’t involved in the fight, and Glidewell agreed. Authorities also found a second knife at the scene.

Defense attorneys plan to call at least a couple of witnesses to the stand who will say that they saw the man at the scene with or near the knife.


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