DNA test solves cheerleader’s murder after 46 years

Carla Walker & Rodney McCoy

It has been nearly 50 years since the murder of 17-year-old Carla Jan Walker who was killed in 1974 after attending a Valentine’s Day dance. Several decades later, investigators have arrested the man they believe is responsible for the killing of the Texas cheerleader. Glen Samuel McCurley, 77, was arrested on September 22 by authorities, NBC affiliate KXAS-TV reported.

Walker and her boyfriend Western Hills High School football quarterback Rodney McCoy had attended a Valentine’s Day dance on February 16, 1974. Post the dance, they had met some friends and then stopped by a Fort Worth bowling alley.

McCoy has always stood by his story that a man had approached the couple as they were sitting inside his car and had pointed a gun at him. He was then beaten unconscious and when he woke up, his girlfriend was nowhere to be found. According to investigators, McCurley was the one to approach the couple and had kidnapped Walker, holding her hostage for a few days. Three days after she was abducted, her body was located in a ditch and her clothes had been ripped off…

Authorities believed that Walker was sexually assaulted, strangled and beaten…They were able to obtain some DNA evidence from Walker’s clothing, which were sent to a private lab leading to a full DNA profile of the suspect. This led the authorities to McCurley, a truck driver, who had already been named as a possible suspect in Walker’s murder case.

It was the latest advancements in DNA procedures that made the case. DNA and genealogy technology used works in both ways, Profiles and catches the guilty and exonerates the innocent.

Othram, the private lab, says its technology has revolutionised the field of forensic evidence and made what was once seen as impossible — building a solid profile from degraded, tiny traces of DNA — a reality…

After building a genetic profile in a matter of weeks, they can then trawl DNA databases to find matches for both unidentified victims and perpetrators.

North Dakota Supreme Court overturns conviction on 20-year-old charge

The North Dakota Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who was tried last year on a 20-year-old drunken driving charge.

Jason Gale was arrested for drunken driving in 1995 in Grand Forks but wasn’t called to court until last July, when a jury found him guilty. Gale’s attorney, Scott Brand, argued to justices in December that the delay violated Gale’s right to a speedy trial.

“The government was clearly negligent. It’s 20 years, memories are going to fade and that was obvious at the trial,” Brand told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “The officer just memorized his report. He didn’t have any independent recollection as to what happened on that night…”

The opinion released late Tuesday said justices can’t presume that a 20-year-old case was “diligently prosecuted when there is no evidence of any prosecution at all” and that two decades is an unprecedented amount of time for a DUI case to remain idle.

“I have never seen a case like this in my life or even so much heard of one,” Brand said.

Wonder if we’ll see this show up in an episode of Fargo?

SCOTUS says coppers taking DNA samples the same as fingerprinting and photographing

Police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.

The federal government and 28 states authorize the practice, and law enforcement officials say it is a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes. But the court said the testing was justified by a different reason: to identify the suspect in custody.

“When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, “taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Justice Antonin Scalia summarized his dissent from the bench…“Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” Justice Scalia said from the bench…

There’s a bit more blah, blah, blah from Scalia. He voices the paranoia already part of the DNA of jerkwater populists who can’t get their brains around the United States as a union, a whole nation, instead of a confederacy.

Monday’s ruling, Maryland v. King, No. 12-207, arose from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md. His DNA profile, obtained by swabbing his cheek, matched evidence from a 2003 rape case, and he was convicted of that crime…

Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the “quick and painless” swabbing procedure was a search under the Fourth Amendment, meaning it had to be justified as reasonable under the circumstances. The search was reasonable, he said, given “the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and accurate way to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.”

Such identification, he said, “is no different than matching an arrestee’s face to a wanted poster of a previously unidentified suspect; or matching tattoos to known gang members to reveal a criminal affiliation; or matching the arrestee’s fingerprints to those recovered from a crime scene.”

An inevitable follow-on to this decision will be appeals and modifications to the law in the same vein as other nations ahead of the United States in considering and utilizing modern technology.

The UK high courts have ruled that DNA samples gathered as part of an arrest must be destroyed, the results expunged if the suspect is found not guilty of any offense at the time.

Paedophile who abducted girls 30 years ago caught by DNA

A paedophile who abducted four young girls from the street in the 1980s and 1990s and sexually abused them has appeared in court after cold-case detectives linked his DNA to the crimes.

David Bryant, a 65-year-old grandfather from Ulverston, Cumbria, was due to be sentenced at Newcastle crown court on Friday but the case was adjourned until next week.

The court heard that Bryant carried out separate attacks on young girls in Hampshire and Tyneside. He has admitted four counts of kidnap and four of sexual assault.

Mark Giuliani, for the prosecution, told the court: “A familiar feature of this offending is how the defendant targeted young girls out playing near their homes…

The prosecution told the court that Bryant was convicted of three sex offences against women between 1975 and 1984.

How many more cases could be solved if politicians felt like spending the money on computational analysis to link evidence already on file — instead of the crap that governments assign higher priority. Like wars, standing armies sufficient to “show the flag”, the war on drugs, subsidies to keep the prices of commodities higher than need be.

Always hang onto evidence: Coppers arrest man in 1983 murder

DA Gerry Leone initiated the cold case program after taking office in 2007

State Police arrested and charged a Holyoke man last night with a 1983 slaying, moving to close an investigation that had been open for 28 years.

The Middlesex district attorney’s office said Shawn Marsh, 46, of Holyoke, had been indicted by a Middlesex grand jury and arrested by State Police in connection with the homicide after evidence against him emerged through new fingerprint testing technology…

The case dates to Aug. 22, 1983, when Malden police, responding to reports of gunshots, found Rodney Wyman, of Simsbury, Conn., suffering from a gunshot wound at the Town Line Motel in Malden. Wyman was rushed to Malden Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities said an immediate investigation into the case yielded no arrests at the time because of a lack of evidence…

The technology, including a national fingerprint identification database, had not been developed at the time of the homicide. The system was launched by the FBI in 1999 and contains the fingerprints, criminal history, and physical description of more than 66 million criminal subjects. It is the largest biometric database in the world…

Authorities alleged that the defendant and another suspect, who has yet to be identified, shot Wyman after breaking into his hotel room with the intention of robbing him.

Bravo. I’m enough of a CSI-freak as it is. But, re-opening and solving cold cases like this one are a special benefit of advances in forensic science.