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Unidentified Suspect Indicted With DNA

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Henry Bowman, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

    I'm not sure what to think about this from a Constitutional standpoint. The state has done an end run around a criminal statute of limitations by getting an indictment against an unidentified person who has identified DNA. Hmmm...

    Link to article in Cincinnati
    Unidentified Suspect Indicted With DNA

    Reported by: Bill Price
    Web produced by: Mark Sickmiller
    Photographed by: 9News
    Last updated: 10/6/2005 6:24:00 PM
    A woman has been indicted for taking tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry from an Amberly village home.

    The only problem is -- prosecutors don't know who their suspect is. She hasn't been caught and police don't know her name -- but they know her DNA code.

    The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office can't remember ever indicting someone it doesn't know -- based solely on DNA evidence.

    But that's what it did Thursday, indicting a woman it is calling "Jane Doe" for burglary and theft, based on DNA blood evidence it found at the scene two years ago.

    "In this case, we don't know the name of the defendant. We do know the DNA code sequence. Because we wanted to hold the statue of limitations from running (out), we indicted her today," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

    More than $78,000 in jewelry was taken from an Amberley Village home of an elderly couple, in broad daylight, during the summer of 2003.

    Blood was found at the crime scene when the burglar cut themselves.

    The case went cold until just recently.

    "This woman has been identified in another aggravated burglary in another jurisdiction, and there has been a match. But we just don't know who she is yet," said Deters.

    The Amberley Village detective who investigated the burglary here says the woman's DNA was recently found in a Virginia burglary, just outside of Richmond.

    Now, he feels it's just a waiting game, waiting to see if the woman's DNA shows up.

    "It will be a repeat offender situation. Eventually this person will get caught and when they are, if they are sent to a jail or a reformatory, blood will be drawn and there will be a DNA profile made," said Detective Jeffrey Norton of Amberley Village Police.

    "This is unique today, but it's not going to be unique in the future, because we don't want to lose a case just because we don't know the name of who it is," said Deters.

    Deters says instead of DNA matches with one-in-a-million chances, DNA testing is now getting down to one-in-a-trillion chances. Those are chances he feels will eventually favor the law, and not this burglary suspect.

    "People are walking out of prison because of it and a lot of people are going to be walking into prison because of it," he said.

    Deters says there is a little DNA time-bomb waiting for the suspect. He is waiting for her to be arrested.

    He does admit it could take years before she is caught.
  2. Working Man

    Working Man Well-Known Member

    As a person currently in school for this field all I can say is....

    Welcome to the future... the future is now.
  3. Mongo the Mutterer

    Mongo the Mutterer Well-Known Member

    Okay, what if the evidence was a footprint? a fingerprint?

    AFAIK the state can issue a John Doe warrant, but an indictment?

    Interesting. I wonder what our legal eagles think?
  4. Crosshair

    Crosshair Well-Known Member

    Any decent lawyer will most likely be able to tear this to pieces. It's like robbing a bank and them charging the man in the security camera photo, but they don't know who the man is.
  5. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    I know Ohio's been doing this for years now. Do not know if any of the DNA indictments made it to the appellate courts.

    Would believe this would depend on the language of Ohio's statute of limitations statute. Here I believe it would be ineffective to toll SoL.

    DNA profile is NOT a person. They just have the magic slipper, not her. Now the Prosecutor Prince has to go find her! That's my argument and I'm sticking to it. :D

    Don't know why the prosecution is so intent on training criminals (they are like kids with toys--look, look what I have). Now a good burglar (which I never seem to represent) would take another's blood and plant that at the scene to throw off the the po-po.
  6. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    It looks as if their argument is the identification (is that a legal term?) is positive even if she hasn't been identified in the normal usage of the word. Interesting, but I don't know enough law to know if it will work. Does an indictment need to be for a specific person as this one seems to be, or can they print out a form indictment for every reported crime? I suppose they are doing this because of the value of the stolen items. If not, someone spitting on the sidewalk today may be in for a surprize 40 years from now.
  7. MrTuffPaws

    MrTuffPaws Well-Known Member

    In the last California election, voters overwhelmingly passed a measure (~85% for) that set up a DNA database for the police and other agencies to use. That’s nice you ask, how are they going to get samples into the database? Well, if you are ever detained by police, not arrested, not convicted, nor charged with any wrong doing, just held by the police, you have to submit to a DNA swab of the mouth. Your sample goes into the database.

    The only good thing about the measure is that there is no guarantied funding to create and maintain the database. The measure only stated “subject to funding”.
  8. dfaugh

    dfaugh Well-Known Member

    Nothing new

    This has been going on for a while now...As mentioned, it allows the indictment, before stature of limitations runs out..personally I don't see anything particularly wrong with it, if it eventually brings a BG to justice.
  9. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    This is new to me but my first impression is it circumvents the statute of limitations. I think the SoL are there for a good reason. I don't want to see them kicked aside, even to bring BGs to justice. I think this will result in old cases where the ONLY evidence is the DNA. Do we really want to lock this woman up 15 (hypothetical) years from now if all we can prove is that her DNA was at the crime scene?
  10. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    griz, even if my client's DNA was there 15 years ago, that does not mean she was. Further, even if she was there, doesn't mean she committed burglary. :D
  11. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    I am curious as to what that reason may be. If you steal $78,000 from me it's going to effect me both right after the crime as well as years down the road. And you are just as quilty 15 years from now as you are 5 years from now. Or 3. Or whatever the SOL might be.

    While I could see a limitation on something as minor as a traffic ticket, this amount of money is still a serious issue to most people. And wouldn't the burden of proof be just as strong (and perhaps a shade bit stronger) so many years later?

    Time may ease wounds (and losses) but it doesn't really erase them.
  12. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    The reason is memories get less vivid as time goes on, and witnesses are prone to unintentionally add detail that wasn't there. Also from the defendants point of view, at least innocent ones, the chances of them being able to recall and prove what they were doing at a specific time are greatly reduced. For instance, you probably cannot remember what you were doing at this time of day exactly five years and four days ago. Given that, how can you come up with any evidence or witnesses to back up your innocence? You know you didn't do it, but the jury only hears "I don't know what I was doing then" as the prosocuter accuses you of whatever it was.

    DNA adds a new element to this. It's something most people know little about, and the use and capabilities of the evidence change quickly. Like you, I assume that Jane Doe is a thief. But I know zero about the case other than her DNA has been found there. With no defendant, there is no defence. There have already been mistakes with DNA evidence. If her's is one of those mistakes, or in the future people start planting DNA to throw off law enforcement, how can this woman explain her innocence?

    Again I am not saying she is innocent, only that SoL are a reasonable protection for innocent people.

    MICHAEL T Well-Known Member

    BIG BROTHER is every where And its getting worst. Wait and see they will do away with trials . Why waste the money WE have your DNA your guilty!!!! :what:
  14. FPrice

    FPrice Well-Known Member

    It seems that these very points could be used in the defense also. Pointing out that details become hazy can raise doubts in the jury's minds, especially if you can show how testimony may change over time. Expert testimony to this phenomena could blunt much of this.

    How about this (partial) closing arguement:

    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecutor made a point of saying that since my client could not remember where he was, then he must be guilty. But how many of you can remember exactly where you were or what you were doing at the exact time of the crime?"

    My point is that I look at the passage of time as a very weak reason to excuse a criminal from a crime. IF there is substantial new evidence, or if existing evidence which could have convicted a criminal at the time is finally tied to a person, do we just say, "Sorry."?

    Suppose you were the victim. Would you want the DA to come to you and say, "Sorry, too much time. Get over it."?
  15. Langenator

    Langenator Well-Known Member

    Just a thought, but don't most states have statutes requiring a speedy trial? So that the trial has to begin within a set time frame following the indictment?

    I would think that, assuming this state has such a statute (in WA state I believe it is 60 days, unless defense counsel agrees to waive the time limit), indicting the DNA without an actual defendant would only buy the State a limited amount of time.

    If they try the DNA with the actual defendant in absentia , then you run into 6th Amendment issues-because the defendant was not able to confront and cross examine the witnesses against him/her.
  16. NCP24

    NCP24 Well-Known Member

    I believe speedy trial only kicks in upon the service of the indictment, however alot of states do require unservered indictments be returned to the clerks office within a set amount of time. Even then I think they remain active and are just reissued for service.
  17. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

    A DNA code cant be tried or incarcerated any more than a fingerprint or a semen stain can. Note that the republicans didnt impeach "spot on a blue dress" they impeached the president, even though their DNA is identical.

    Also, if she is indicted now, doesnt she have to receive a speedy trial? If we follow the logic of the proseclowns, arent they violating the 6th amendment rights of the DNA sample? Doesnt it have a right to an attorney? How can a DNA sample form mens rea to be found guilty of burglary and theft?

    I predict a speedy acquittal in the case "State of Ohio v a DNA sample" lol laughed out of court. Even if they win, what kind of jail cell will the DNA sample be put in? A filing cabinet with a big lock?
  18. Amusetec

    Amusetec Well-Known Member

    Just refuse to give it. SC already ruled that a criminal does not have to fill out a 4473 becuse it would violate is 5th would this not fall into the same catagory that it violates the 5th?

    As far as DNA if I was on a jury and they just had DNA I do not know if I could convict being from Houston. ;)
  19. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    beer, you're on the jury! :D
  20. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    I certainly agree with that principle. The victim is still the victim two years later. I just think as a practical matter it becomes unfair to the defendant after a lot* of time has passed. Despite the innocent until proven guilty theory, the system is set up to give the prosecutor the edge, and juries usually give less weight to the defendant’s side.

    I think we will have to agree that two years is too short in this instance, but disagree on statutes of limitations in general.

    *I have to agree that two years doesn't seem like much time at all for stealing over $70K :scrutiny:

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