When prosecutors bring forward DNA evidence, they typically argue that these tests are extremely accurate. They often claim, although there is some debate over this, that it would be a one in a billion chance for someone to have identical DNA test results to those of the accused. They push back on defense questioning about possible errors in the collection or testing of the evidence.
All in all, it’s very hard to argue against DNA. When you can tie a suspect’s chromosomes to a crime scene, it’s extremely difficult to claim he wasn’t there. But is that enough?
A Denver man was recently accused of a sex crime based on DNA evidence. Along with several friends he had been to a Fourth of July rooftop party at a woman’s residence. Tragically, the woman apparently passed out at that party. When she awoke the next day, she realized something was terribly wrong. Her panties had been removed, she had vaginal pain, and she did not know what had happened.
Several months later, after the police had completed their investigation, they arrested the Denver man and charged him with rape. They told him they had DNA evidence from the victim that matched a previous sample of his that had been entered into a database.
He knew he wasn’t guilty, but it took him 61 days to prove his innocence. That’s 61 days he spent in jail, awaiting trial, for a rape he knew he didn’t commit.
Ultimately, he was able to prove the mistake. The police had collected his DNA at the scene — from a cigarette butt on the roof. A cigarette, not the victim’s body, was the source of the DNA they matched the database sample.
The DNA was an exact match. It proved he had been on that rooftop on the night in question. It did not, however, prove he was guilty of anything at all.
The local district attorney blames the mistake on a clerical error.
If you have been accused of a sex crime and you know you are not guilty, don’t let the police and prosecutor decide what the evidence shows. You need an aggressive criminal defense attorney who won’t stop until the truth comes out.