Trial begins for the accused 1999 cold case killer in Sarasota

Cold Case Trial Begins in Sarasota

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) A first-of-its-kind case is now beginning on the Suncoast.

The accused cold case killer of the 1999 Sarasota murder of Deborah Dalzell is on trial this week. Luke Fleming is charged with murder and sexual battery with great bodily harm.

Two years ago, Sarasota detectives made an arrest after a crack in the case through DNA technology. Sperm left behind at the crime scene at the home of the victim in 1999 was used to produce a trait prediction of what the suspect would’ve looked like.

Detectives then obtained a voluntary DNA swab of Fleming’s child and that profile determined the profile belonged to the suspect.

“It is 700 billion times more likely that it was deposited by this defendant than anybody else," said Sarasota County Assistant States Attorney Art Jackman.

During opening statements prosecutors talked about the condition she was found in.

“And he’s also going to tell you that he sees the white T-shirt wrapped around Deborah’s neck and he’s also going to tell you that there’s a sock stuffed down the back of Deborah throat,” said Sarasota County Assistant States Attorney Art Jackman. “Her face was brutally battered.”

Dalzell didn’t show up for work that morning so her former worker drove to her home to check on her. When he got there he saw her car still in the garage, a ripped-up window screen, and things out of place in her room.

The defense differed their opening statements, but seven witnesses took the stand Tuesday.

“I called her boss and said, ‘Mike there’s something terribly wrong here you need to get out here.’ Hung up and called 911," said a former coworker of the victim, Joel Seimer.

When detectives and crime scene technicians showed up to the crime scene they found the bathtub overflowing and Dalzell murdered.

In court Tuesday, Fleming’s former girlfriend also took the stand where she said that nearly two decades after the murder law enforcement officials asked for a DNA swab of her and Fleming’s son, tying him to the case. Fleming was later arrested.

The trial recessed for the day right before 4 p.m. Tuesday. The trial will continue in Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

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