The trial of the three suspects charged with the murder of UCSB graduate student Jarrod Davidson will continue, following a decision from the Santa Barbara County Superior Court Sep. 30.

Lawyers for Malinda and Philip Jones and their daughter Kelee Davidson, all of whom have been charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with the July 2004 shooting of Davidson, argued that the grand jury responsible for indicting their clients was given insufficient information about the evidence in the case – particularly about the reliability of DNA evidence. At the hearing Friday, Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa conceded that DNA evidence is sometimes unreliable, but ruled that the grand jury had enough evidence to make an informed decision and that the trial would continue.

Ochoa and both teams of lawyers decided that Philip Jones, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and has not been attending the courtroom proceedings, is well enough to return to County Jail while he continues to receive treatment.

During the hearing, Ochoa also ruled that the prosecution must share evidence collected from Jarrod Davidson’s apartment with the defense team. Ochoa set Oct. 14 as the date of a readiness and settlement conference, in which the prosecution and defense teams will meet to determine whether the case can be resolved without a trial.

Public Defender James Egar, who represents Philip Jones in the case, said the DNA evidence in question – which police recovered from a card holder in a potted plant found near Jarrod Davidson’s body, allegedly linking Malinda Jones to the crime scene – was not a strong enough foundation for the charges filed against the defendants.

Robert Landheer, Malinda Jones’ defense attorney, said prosecutors at the grand jury hearing claimed the DNA found at the crime scene could be matched to a single person out of 13 trillion people. Landheer said this statistic is untrue, citing cases where two unrelated people have both been matched to the same DNA sample, and said the district attorney should have informed the grand jury about the potential for error.

“If it was an infallible number it would have been useful for the grand jury to hear, but they did not hear that,” Landheer said.

Kelee Davidson’s defense attorney, Joe Allen, said the DNA evidence is the only substantial proof that links the suspects to Jarrod Davidson’s murder.

“Without the DNA evidence tying Malinda Jones to the scene of the homicide, there is no evidence tying any of these three people with the execution of the murder,” Allen said.

The grand jury received plenty of information about the statistics surrounding DNA evidence, said Prosecutor Gerald Franklin.

“Evidence to the DNA procedure was testified to with adequate detail,” Franklin said.

At the hearing, Landheer also asked Judge Ochoa to excuse Malinda Jones from future hearings due to the state of her mental health. He said she attempted to commit suicide in July 2005, proving that she is not well enough to continue attending hearings for the case. Judge Ochoa postponed his decision on the motion until the Oct. 14 hearing.

“My client will continue to be seen by various doctors, and if at that time it seems she is in a worse state than today, I request that the court convene in her absence,” Landheer said.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Darryl Perlin said he agrees with the judge’s decision to postpone a ruling on Malinda Jones’ ability to stand trial.

“Let’s see how things are in two weeks,” Perlin said. “I am asking that the court not make a ruling today.”