It’s been four years since someone reportedly broke into the home where a 66-year-old man and his 58-year-old wife were sleeping and attempted to rob them, exchanging gunfire in the process.
Now, authorities say they have gotten a break in the case in the form of DNA evidence.
According to authorities, the homeowners were startled awake by the alarm on their home security system. When they got up to shut off the alarm, there were voices coming from the kitchen. The husband grabbed his handgun and encountered two men in his home, one allegedly armed with a rifle.
Bullets were fired by both the homeowner and intruders, with the latter soon fleeing through the window they had broken to gain entry into the home. The residents then called 911 and the husband at that time realized he’d been struck by a bullet fragment. He was treated at a local hospital and soon after released.
It doesn’t appear either of the intruders were struck by a bullet, but what led authorities to them was the method of entry. Or rather, the blood that was left near the window when the pair allegedly broke the glass to gain entry. Initially when that blood was tested for a match back in 2012, no matches were returned.
However, that changed last summer when detectives on the case got word that a man recently convicted of an unrelated crime for which he was incarcerated matched the DNA profile of the earlier home invasion. A court order allowed for a second sample to be tested.
Meanwhile, suspect denied any involvement in the alleged crime.
Authorities later were told the DNA of that individual was a match to the older crime scene. He was already serving 15 years for unrelated assault and drug charges. He’s now facing charges of attempted murder and burglary.
Investigators then boasted about how valuable DNA evidence can be, even in older cases.
However, it’s worth noting that forensic evidence isn’t always the gold standard authorities make it out to be. Our criminal defense lawyers in Birmingham would note it was only last year that the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology formed the very first nationwide commission on forensic science. The group, comprised of 37 attorneys, forensic practitioners, police and scientists have only begun to formulate uniform national standards for things like forensic training and certification.
The National Research Council in 2009 issued a scathing report that was highly critical of forensic practices in the U.S. – everything from hair sampling methods to bite mark analysis to arson investigation – was greatly unreliable. Testing results returned far too much variability to be useful in criminal cases, when so much is at stake.
Further, the agency reported that just 60 percent of crime labs that are publicly funded have a certified examiner on staff.
Discrepancies continue to exist among the standards set by federal, state and individual private labs – all of which are utilized by law enforcement agencies. Just as one example, the FBI requires DNA matches analyze 13 specific base-pair locations from each sample. But it was recently revealed a large police department in Northern California used a low-quality DNA sample that was 30 years old and only compared 5 base-pair locations. This evidence was used in at least one murder trial, and a conviction was obtained.
The bottom line is just because authorities call it science doesn’t mean it’s full proof, or that legitimate challenges can’t be made.