Can Forensics Prove Woman Shot Self After Attacking Husband?

Lead vapor evidence means Linda Dolloff turned gun on herself, prosecutor says.

ByABC News
July 13, 2010, 4:34 PM

July 16, 2010 — -- When Standish, Maine, police responded to Dolloff Rd. on an emergency call in April of last year, they encountered a grisly scene.

The couple inside the house, Linda and Jeff Dolloff, both were badly wounded. She had been shot in the midsection with a handgun. He had been beaten nearly to death with a baseball bat.

Both would survive, although the husband had no recollection of the event. What came next would change their lives forever. After an investigation, police said the wife, a yoga instructor, had tried to kill her husband and then shot herself, as part of a cover-up. She was charged with attempted murder and other crimes and faced up to 30 years in prison.

Watch the full story tonight on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET

As Linda Dolloff's trial began, however, prosecutors knew they had several problems. There were no eyewitnesses, there was no confession and the defendant looked like anything but a would-be killer.

The prosecution's case would have to be built on cutting-edge forensic evidence and a persuasive story about why Linda Dolloff might have wanted her husband dead.

Click HERE for Part 1 of the Linda Dolloff story.

"I think that juries would prefer to have an eyewitness, or videotape," Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said, "but a circumstantial case can be just as strong as a case with an eyewitness."

Anderson and her team plunged into the task of proving their case against Linda Dolloff. The weapons used on the Dolloffs that night, they argued, indicated that the attacks were not the work of a stranger unfamiliar with the home.

The gun used to shoot the wife, now 48, belonged to her husband, for example.

"The gun's not foreign to the scene, the baseball bat's not foreign to the scene, and they're not weapons of opportunity," Maine State Police Det. Bill Ross said. "These weren't things that were just left out in the open."

The bat, Ross said, was "tucked away behind some machinery" in the garage. There were two other baseball bats in the house that were more easily accessible, he said.

There was important solid evidence on the bat handle.

"I was able to find Linda Dolloff's DNA on the grip portion of the baseball bat," said Christine Waterhouse, a forensic DNA analyst at the Maine State Crime Lab. "There was some human bloodstains on the grip area that came back as matching Linda Dolloff."

But the defense had an explanation for the blood on the bat.

"Her explanation being," Anderson said, "that after she got shot, you know, she's in there crawling around and, you know, she may have touched it."