Defense attorneys for Joseph Cua, the property manager accused of brutally beating an elderly Millbrae couple to death in 2006, stressed Wednesday that DNA evidence at the murder scene suggested a third party was present.
The 53-year-old Cua, who worked for Fernand Wagner, 78, and his wife, Suzanne, 68, is charged with bludgeoning the couple to death in their Lomita Avenue home in Millbrae.
On June 14, 2006, a Millbrae police officer discovered their bodies after a coworker of Suzanne Wagner called police to report that she had failed to show up for work.
Cua was arrested June 19 aboard his sailboat in Oxnard.
During apreliminary hearing Wednesday, Janet Patel, DNA analyst for the county Sheriff’s department, testified that DNA collected from Suzanne Wagner’s body and fingernails belonged to someone other than Fernand Wagner and Cua.
Defense attorneys Ed Pomeroy and Michael Hroziencik said this suggested someone other than Cua and the Wagners was at the scene.
“All we know is that someone else was there,” Pomeroy said.
When asked what that meant for his case, he said, “I don’t want to speculate at this time.”
During testimony, Patel addressed bloodstains found on a bathroom doorframe and Suzanne Wagner’s underwear that matched the blood of Cua and Fernand Wagner. Patel, however, said the mixture of blood in the stains did not rule out that someone else’s blood could have been a part of the stains.
In other testimony Wednesday, Edith Edmonds, who knew the Wagners and Cua for at least 30 years, said she recalled an “unusual” phone conversation with Suzanne Wagner on the morning of June 13. Edmonds said she asked Wagner how she was doing.
“She didn’t answer, ‘fine.’ She just said ‘Fernand’s here,’ and then she paused and said ‘Joe [Cua] is here,’” she said.
Edmonds briefly spoke to Cua and Fernand Wagner during the six-minute phone call, but said their tones were not unusual.
Cua remains in custody without bail. Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Cua may face the death penalty, but the District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to pursue it next month.
The two-day preliminary hearing concluded with a judge scheduling Cua’s arraignment for Aug. 2, at which time it is expected a jury trial will be scheduled.