AV Preeminent
The Florida Bar

Onstott: “Circumstantial Evidence”

woman talking to audience

Another high profile case is about to hit the books. Final witnesses testified on Monday, and the Court was closed on Tuesday, due to Tropical Storm Fay. On Wednesday, Court resumes. The public will learn of the fate of David Lee Onstott some time this week.

This 40-year-old man is charged in the murder of Sarah Lunde, a 13-year-old teen. Her body was found three years ago – submerged in an abandoned pond in Ruskin.

The forensic experts that testified this past Thursday couldn’t seem to come up with any concrete evidence because of the state of decomposition her body was in – she had been weighted down with concrete blocks and immersed for several days.

The medical examiner, Christina Roberts, could not positively say whether Sarah was sexually assaulted or choked. There is no physical evidence linking Onstott to Sarah’s murder. Soil samples were tested, but it could not be determined that the soil on Onstott’s shoes was the same soil near where Sarah’s body was found. The only thing Maureen Bottrell, an FBI geologist, was able to say was that the two soil samples had the same mineral content. According to aerial photos, the area where Sarah’s body was located is mostly brush and sand-type dirt. She could not say how many other places in the world have this same type of soil.

A family member – Sarah’s sister – testified that her brother Andrew told her Onstott was at the Lundy residence the day Sarah disappeared. He denied this claim, but later, retracted the denial and admitted he was there. He has also been seen at the site Sarah’s body was found.

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence tying Onstott to Sarah’s murder, but no concrete proof. The jurors will have their hands full sifting through all this information and making heads or tails out of it. Prosecutors are not looking for the death penalty in this case and, in my opinion, stand little chance of success in achieving a conviction in this case.

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