Michael Haydon, 44, is having a Perry Mason moment. Just as his case appeared unwinnable for the prosecutors, a surprise witness has popped up in court . . . his best friend . . . his German shepherd, Boomer. The Court has ruled that prosecutors in Wisconsin may introduce DNA evidence from his dog at his upcoming murder trial.
Prosecutors had previously dropped charges due to the lack of evidence against Haydon. Zemke was found dead in the cab of his long-distance truck on a Highway exit ramp in November 2003. Police believe that Haydon suspected Zemke of having an affair with his ex-girlfriend. Police found dog hairs on the scene and tied the hairs to Boomer.
The defense sought to exclude the evidence, which suggested that the crime scene was contaminated by hairs from other dogs. It sounds like the DNA evidence could only confirm hairs “consistent with” Boomer. Judge Thomas Flugaur ruled that the hairs could be used in the trial. In addition to Boomer, there are hairs that belong to another dog witness, Sadie — the yellow lab named Sadie that belonged to his former girlfriend.
Haydon is already serving a 25-year sentence for sexually assaulting his girlfriend at gunpoint. Notably, he was also convicted of stealing her dog.
Boomer and Sadie could prove the most dogged witnesses the defense will face since they cannot be cross examined. If there were an affair with the girlfriend, there could be an alternative defense narrative that she introduced the hairs but that does not appear to be the approach of the defense. I am also unsure why the hairs cannot be conclusively tied to the dogs by DNA like human hairs.
This is precisely why I chose a Goldendoodle for the family dog — they do not shed. Besides Molly would never be able to satisfy the mental competency requirements for testimony.
It is not clear if Boomer and Sadie will be kenneled in a canine witness protection program under different names.