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Closing arguments under way in LA detective trial

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FILE - In this July 6, 2009 file photo, former Los Angeles detective Stephanie Lazarus appears in court in Los Angeles. Lazarus is accused of killing an ex-boyfriend's wife 23 years ago. Attorneys on Monday, March 5, 2012 are expected to begin presenting

FILE - In this July 6, 2009 file photo, former Los Angeles detective Stephanie Lazarus appears in court in Los Angeles. Lazarus is accused of killing an ex-boyfriend’s wife 23 years ago. Attorneys on Monday, March 5, 2012 are expected to begin presenting final arguments in the love triangle case.

Al Seib, Pool, File, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A defense attorney for former Los Angeles police detective Stephanie Lazarus has told jurors the prosecution's centerpiece evidence in her cold-case murder trial can't be trusted.

Defense attorney Mark Overland said Monday that the passage of time caused DNA from a bite mark on the victim's arm to become compromised. He says it was improperly packaged and preserved, and he argues that the rest of the case is based on circumstantial evidence.

Overland spoke after prosecutor Paul Nunez argued that Lazarus was consumed with love for a man who married victim Sherri Rasmussen and was driven to hunt her down and kill her.

Rasmussen was murdered in 1986 and the evidence lay dormant until a cold-case team subjected it to DNA analysis. They found a probable match with Lazarus, a veteran police detective.