Donald Blom: A Repeat Sex Offender Finally Stopped
The Prosecution's Case
The trial began in June 2000, taking five weeks to select the jury. The trial proper took an additional five weeks, with over fifty witnesses called to testify, including several key witnesses who would make all the difference. Assistant Carlton County Attorney Thomas Pertler opened the case.
Among the early witnesses, Blom's brother testified that he had given the Blom family a box of old clothing, including a New York Yankees jersey. Blom had earlier said he'd never had such a shirt.
More damaging was the testimony from the two women whom Blom had kidnapped in 1983, who had agreed to testify about how he had treated them. Jurors heard firsthand what he was capable of doing. He had tied them to a tree, threatened them with a knife, and put socks in their mouths. He choked one several times, each time reviving her, and was preparing to complete his assault — he said he was going to rape them—when a deputy happened to come by, causing Blom to flee into the woods. He had been arrested two months later when one of the girls recognized him, despite his having dyed his hair, and he pleaded guilty. Both women, as girls, had resembled Katie.
Forensic odontologists then testified that the partial tooth was consistent with Katie's age, gender and dental work. Dr. Ann Norrlander admitted she had been uncertain at first that the item was even a tooth. When she concluded it was, she had not initially thought it was Katie's, but then had changed her mind. She admitted that odontological matching was more an art than a science, but maintained that greater information offered greater ability to make an identification. She testified that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the tooth was Katie's. It was the discovery of the chemicals in the filling material that had led her to this conclusion.
A videotape from another store's security camera, which had captured Blom back in May, showed that around the time of the abduction his hair, now gray, had had blond tips, as affirmed by his barber, making him appear younger. The image identified as Blom by credit card receipts with time stamps, resembled the image of Katie's abductor at the Conoco store, but, for reasons not explained, theses images were not placed side by side for the jury.
Most incriminating was Blom's confession, which the judge allowed into evidence. Each juror was given a transcript to follow along. Afterward, the courtroom was silent, save for quiet sobs from Katie's relatives. The case against Blom at this point seemed fairly strong.