The trial of Ulf Olsson, suspected of killing 10 year old Helén Nilsson and 26 year old Jannica Ekblad in 1989, took an unexpected turn on Thursday morning as Lund District Court delayed judgement until further DNA testing could be carried out.
The decision effectively splits the case in two. All the evidence against Olsson for murdering Helén Nilsson has been presented to the court, but the results of the new DNA analysis – on semen found in Jannica Ekblad – will not be available for “at least ten weeks”.
Sydsvenskan described the “irritated discussion between the trial judge Jan Alvå, prosecutor Pär Andersson and Olsson’s defence lawyer Sven Jernryd” which led to the decision. While the prosecutor’s view was that the trial could come to a close on Thursday as scheduled, both the judge and Olsson’s lawyer disagreed.
They pointed out that if the evidence came in after the trial was concluded and showed that it was not Olsson’s semen, there was a risk that the whole thing would have to be rerun.
This, the third attempt at DNA analysis on the semen, will be carried out at a laboratory in Birmingham, England. The first two attempts failed to produce conclusive results.
That the defence lawyer should be staking so much on this last piece of evidence suggests that the odds are stacked against his client.
In an interview with Dagens Nyheter, Christian Diesen, a professor of law, said that “there is no problem for the court to find Ulf Olsson guilty of murder”.
Diesen pointed to three strong indications that Olsson was the man behind the crimes.
“The fact that they found Ulf Olsson’s semen in Helén’s body is not proof that he killed her, but it’s a very strong indicator that he did it,” he said.
“Neither is Jannica’s blood in his summer cottage proof that he killed her, but it’s similarly strong circumstantial evidence.”
The third factor is the numerous anonymous phone calls and letters received by police in the years since the deaths, in which someone is admitting to the crimes.
One of these calls was proven to have come from a telephone card used by Olsson.
“In this context this telephone card is as strong an indicator as the DNA evidence,” said Diesen.
“The semen, the blood and the telephone card build a net of independent circumstantial evidence which, together with the lack of an alibi, tie Ulf Olsson to the murders.”
However, in court on Thursday morning Olsson’s defence lawyer Sven Jernryd read out the profile of the suspect – or suspects – created by police some years ago. Sydsvenskan noted that the profile highlighted clear differences in the two murders.
“The differences are that Helén was an inexperienced little schoolgirl while Jannica was an adult, a prostitute and a heroin abuser. The woman’s body lay completely in the open while the girl’s had been packed in plastic bags.”
The trial is now expected to be concluded in March.