Zion Foster trial: Jaylin Brazier's 'cousin porn' search history revealed on day 6

Jaylin Brazier will return to court on Tuesday as his trial for the murder of Zion Foster continues into its seventh day of testimony – and it will be a continuation of Monday's testimony from a Detroit Police detective that will start the day.

Brazier, 25, was originally charged and convicted of lying to police. While serving time for that crime, he was charged with murder, though Foster's body has never been found.

Detroit Police Detective Sarah Markel was on the stand Monday afternoon, detailing all that she found when extricating information from Brazier and Foster's cell phones.

Brazier and Foster were cousins through marriage but were not blood-related.

You can watch our gavel-to-gavel coverage in the player above, on FOX2Detroit.com, and FOX 2's YouTube channel.

Monday afternoon, the detective who pulled messages from Foster's phone testified. There were thousands of messages exchanged between the two. In court on Monday, they started with texts in December 2020. Click here for a full recap of the messages.

She also testified about what Brazier searched for just days after Foster's death – they included texts that indicate he felt he was being watched by police and thoughts of suicide.

3:31 p.m. - Erik Franti, Detroit Police Detective

After a very brief recess in court, Erik Franti, a Detroit Police Detective with the department's cybercrime unit testified.

Franti testified that he analyzes information on phones as part of investigations. The prosecution tried to introduce him as an expert witness but the defense objected – questioning his credentials. 

After about 15 minutes of questioning from both sides, the prosecutor asked to introduce him not as an expert but as a lay witness - which mean he can still testify to the facts that happened but his expertise isn't going to be needed. Instead, he testified on what was found on the devices.

Franti testified that he found multiple pornography links on Brazier's phone – many of which shown in court included the word cousin.

The url's all included the ‘k=’ in them. Franti testifies that indicates that the user typed in the keywords specifically and it was not content that surfaced on the homepage of the adult website.

At 4 p.m., court was adjourned for the day, with plans to return at 9:30 Wednesday morning.

1:36 p.m - Forensic Pathologist Leigh Hlavaty testifies

After an hour-long lunch break, Forensic Pathologist Leigh Hlavaty was called to the stand. She testified she's done thousands of autopsies. She also testified about how she can determine how someone would die - even without having a body.

Hlavaty conducted a review on Foster's death. Using Foster's health records from the Henry Ford Health System from November 2016 to December 2021. Using her health records and comparing them to what police said about her drug use the night she died could help Hlavaty determine details about her death.

Hlavaty went through the past five years of medical history of Foster. It included illnesses including pneumonia, strep, and other illnesses dating back to 2016. She was also diagnosed with asthma and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). EDS is a rare genetic condition that affects connected tissue in the body and doesn't typically affect the quality of life.

During a visit in October of 2021, Foster was prescribed to take the antidepressant Prozac. Hlavaty said the low dose of Prozac that she was prescribed would not have caused any reactions had she suddenly stopped taking the medication.

Hlavaty said, based on the years of data that she had on Foster, there was only one condition that she had that could have killed her suddenly.

"The only condition that could have resulted in sudden and sudden death or unexpected death in her would have been asthma. But asthma does not cause sudden death. You just don't die suddenly. You die in an asthma attack and asthma attacks are it's like you're being suffocated. So it's the antithesis of falling asleep. I mean, you are struggling to breathe. You're breathing fast. You know, if you have your inhalers, you are using it. I think to every person observing someone in an asthma attack, it's clear that something is wrong and going on. And that was not any signs or symptoms that were in the circumstances that were given to me. So, again, based on her history, the one thing that I think could have caused her death at 17, the circumstances did not seem to support that," Hlavaty said.

She testified there was no background tests conducted to diagnose her with a seizure disorder or symptoms that could have been consistent with seizures or seizure-like systems.

Hlavaty's testimony counters the defense's argument – that Foster had an underlying health condition that led to her death.

She continued testifying, saying that, while drug use causes death, marijuana and LSD overdoses aren't possible

"The statements were inconsistent as to whether it was her marijuana mixed with the defendants and if they shared paraphernalia. But all the statements were consistent. And marijuana does not cause death. You cannot overdose on it. And it doesn't bring about any adverse or potentially serious effects in the body," Hlavaty said.

She said there was no obvious or likely cause of Foster's death.

Hlavaty added that, had she had the remains of Foster, she would have been more likely to determine her death.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Brian Brown asked about if someone was at risk of having a seizure and stopped taking their medication, they would be at risk of suffering a severe seizure causing death.

He also asked whether someone could have a seizure and died in the span of someone getting up and leaving the room. She confirmed that could be possible.

Brown also questioned if Covid could have been linked to her death. Foster had Covid earlier in the year and did not have signs or symptoms, according to her health history. However, Hlavaty said there was no follow up test confirming that Foster was negative for the virus.

Hlavaty said pneumonia and Covid could have both made EDS much worse.

Under redirect, Elsey asked if she had ever heard of someone trying to disguise or conceal a death caused by Covid-19.

That prompted an objection from Brown, saying it went beyond the scope of cross-examination.

"He just spent a half hour trying to suggest she died of Covid. I think I can question," Elsey said.

Judge Knapp allowed the question, to which Hlavaty said she had never heard of something like that.

12:24 p.m. - Court in break

Judge Donald Knapp sent court to a lunch break with orders to be back at 1:30 p.m.

11:58 a.m. - Courtanee Stieg - DPD forensic analyst

The 28th witness called to the stand, Courtney Stieg, is a cellphone forensic analyst with the Detroit Police Department.

After being sworn in, Stieg explained how she can analyze the locations of cell phones – down to which tower the phone is using.

During Stieg's testimony, she confirmed a conversation between a cell phone that was pinging close to the Macomb Correctional Facility. 

11:05 a.m. DPD detective Sarah Markel takes the stand

Just after 11 a.m., Markel returned to the stand to discuss the two cell phones seized in his 2023 arrest. Prosecutor Ryan Elsey introduced the two phones to trial – and established that Markel had examined the photos. Then he reserved his questions and said he was done.

This gave defense attorney Brian Brown a chance to question Markel about what else was found in the over 4,000 pages of texts between the two. 

Texts from Foster included claims of running away, suicidal ideations, and other friendly communications between the two.

Markel discussed the message history and how they're stored on each phone – which is done on a case-by-case basis, depending on the user.

Markel's testimony wrapped without discussing the contents of the two cell phones obtained during his arrest n 2023.

What happened to Zion Foster?

Foster was last seen by her mom, Ciera Milton, on Jan. 4, 2022.

Milton said Foster was picked up by her cousin at his home in Detroit to smoke marijuana. Milton said Foster texted her later saying she was coming home, but never did. When she started searching and couldn't find her, she went to Eastpointe Police and then Detroit Police, who eventually went to Brazier's home in Detroit and talked to him. 

Foster's phone last pinged in Detroit – which is what prompted Detroit Police to show up at Brazier's door.

Milton recalls Brazier telling her "he hadn’t seen or been in contact with her 'for three years' which is impossible when you were in my driveway and gave me a hug."

Milton said Brazier showed her surveillance footage, but there were gaps in the recordings. She filled in those gaps from a Ring doorbell camera that showed someone believed to be Brazier picking up Foster at her house in Eastpointe the night of her disappearance and bringing her back to his house.

Then, she said, she and others searched the area around Brazier's home.

"That prompted me to go to Jaylin's house. We searched the neighborhood, we looked through abandoned houses, we looked through dumpsters," she said.

Brazier was arrested a few days after Foster disappeared. He was initially arrested for lying to police during the investigation and ultimately pleaded no contest, as part of a plea deal. 

"I was on panic mode ever since that happened," Brazier said in court in 2022. "Her mother at one point talked to me, and I couldn't bring myself to (tell her) 'Your daughter just died.' What do I do?"

In March 2022, Brazier admitted to lying to Eastpointe Police about the investigation. 

"I can't even explain it, what happened. I can just tell you my honest reaction," Brazier claimed in court in March 2022. "One minute she was cool, she was fine. She laid back for a minute and the next thing I knew she was just dead. I don't know what caused it, I did not cause it."

Detroit Police Department spent several months in 2022 picking through tons of trash at a Macomb County landfill, but Foster's body was never found. The search was ultimately called off in October 2022.

'He threw her in a dumpster'

Brazier's story changed wildly over the first few months of the investigation. He first said that he didn't know where she was before ultimately admitting they had been together and that she had died with him as they were smoking marijuana. He then later said he put her body in a dumpster. 

"He said that my baby just died, and then that he threw her in a dumpster, like she was trash," Foster's mom said.

He did not say that he killed her.

"I reacted stupidly off of fear and panic like I've never felt before in my life," he said in court during his sentencing for the initial charge of lying to police.

Detroit Police then spent the summer of 2022 searching through a Macomb County landfill as that's where it was believed her body ultimately would have been when the dumpster was emptied. After several months of searching, they were unable to find her remains or evidence of her remains.

But a year after the search, in June 2023, Brazier was charged with her murder but maintained his innocence.

Milton said she did not believe Brazier.

"It wasn't too long ago that I saw you and even knowing that my baby had been in contact with him, I kept going to his house. I just wanted him to tell me the truth," said Milton.

In March 2022, he was sentenced to between 23 months to 4 years in prison.

Brazier's release and charges

In January 2023, Brazier was released from custody after completing just 10 months of his sentence. The 23-year-old completed a 90-day Special Incarceration Program - essentially a boot camp program - which granted his release. 

In August 2023, Brazier returned to a Wayne County courtroom for his preliminary hearing, which stretched over two days. 

He sat in court emotionless during the hearing as details emerged about Zion’s bank accounts and text messages — prosecutors say — Brazier shared with his girlfriend.

One of those messages included a link to a Google search that questioned if someone could be charged for murder if a body isn't discovered.

After two days of testimony, Brazier was bound over for trial.