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Police detective admits to seizing unrelated evidence

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Ohio residents might be interested in an ongoing California lawsuit that was filed by the widow of a man who committed suicide after he was named as a suspect in a cold-case murder. The widow’s wrongful death lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Diego against the city.

According to news reports, a retired detective who worked on the cold case rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl who was killed in 1984 admitted on the stand that many boxes of personal items that were seized during the search of the man’s home were not related to the homicide case. There were personal photos and other items that were seized. The police reportedly checked the family’s computers and found no evidence, but refused to return any of their property to them.

The man was named as a suspect after a trace amount of his DNA was found on the vaginal swab that was taken from the victim. However, a lab supervisor testified that the man, who was a police officer at that time, might have been the victim of cross-contamination. During the period when the victim was killed, police officers often submitted samples of their semen to use as controls. The detective had testified that he overheard his sergeant say that cross-contamination had been ruled out in the case, which the lab supervisor denied. The man’s widow said that her husband was distraught after their personal belongings were seized, which led to his suicide.

The case demonstrates that DNA evidence is not infallible. Mistakes can occur in the lab or during the chain of custody while getting samples to the lab. People who are accused might want to retain experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible. Legal counsel might identify problems with any testing and analysis that might have occurred.