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.

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy!

DeAngelo accused of 13 murders, nearly 50 rapes

❝ Everyone’s DNA sequence is unique. But for those who wish to maintain their genetic privacy, it may not be unique enough.

A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as the region where they live and about how old they might be.

❝ One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100. All you have to do is provide a sample of saliva and drop it in the mail.

The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch. Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree.

❝ So far, 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo is the most famous person to be identified this way. You may know him better as the suspected Golden State Killer, charged with 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted kidnapping…Since then, at least 13 additional suspected criminals have been identified in the same way…

“When the police caught the Golden State Killer, that was a very good day for humanity,” Columbia University computer scientist Yaniv Erlich said. “The problem is that the very same strategy can be misused.”

I tire of timorous mice who whine about the potential misuse of scientific procedures as if they are automatically destined to be implemented by an evil government. The solution is to regulate governments before they can grow evil, crap governments run by fools, reactionary governments voted into office by the ignorant and fearful.

Want to protect our privacy? Quit electing pimps for corporations which profit from abusing privacy. Get off your rusty dusty and spend a little time and political energy working to guarantee privacy. That won’t come from a line or two of patented code; but, by keeping an eye on the human beings who profit from sleazy government.

Supreme Court allows suit to force DNA testing in Texas appeal

Justice Ginsburg
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for inmates to sue for access to DNA evidence that could prove their innocence.

The legal issue in the case was tightly focused and quite preliminary: Was Hank Skinner, a death row inmate in Texas, entitled to sue a prosecutor there under a federal civil rights law for refusing to allow testing of DNA evidence? By a 6-to-3 vote, the court said yes, rejecting a line of lower-court decisions that had said the only proper procedural route for such challenges was a petition for habeas corpus.

In her opinion for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized the narrowness of the ruling. Allowing Mr. Skinner to sue, she said, was not the same thing as saying he should win his suit.

Justice Ginsburg added that a 2009 decision, District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, had severely limited the kinds of claims prisoners seeking DNA evidence can make. The Osborne decision, she wrote, “left slim room for the prisoner to show that the governing state law denies him procedural due process.”

The case decided Monday, Skinner v. Switzer, No. 09-9000, arose from three killings on New Year’s Eve in 1993…Prosecutors tested some but not all of the evidence from the crime scene. Some of it pointed toward Mr. Skinner, who never denied that he was present, but some did not. His trial lawyer, wary of what additional testing might show, did not ask for it.

In the years since, prosecutors have blocked Mr. Skinner’s requests to test blood, fingernail scrapings and hair found at the scene.

In 2001, Texas enacted a law allowing post-conviction DNA testing in limited circumstances. State courts in Texas rejected Mr. Skinner’s requests under the law, saying he was at fault for not having sought testing earlier. Mr. Skinner then sued in federal court under a federal civil rights law known as Section 1983, saying the Texas law violated his right to due process.

Justice Ginsburg wrote that a Section 1983 suit was available in cases where the relief sought by the inmate would not “necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” Since there was no telling whether the results of the tests Mr. Skinner sought would establish his guilt, clear him or be inconclusive, she wrote, the suit was proper.

The reality of most jurisdictions is that judges and prosecutors always hate to face an appeal – especially in the era when scientific tests are becoming practical and available which might prove those they convicted – to be innocent.