Public DNA Profiles in Criminal Investigations: The Golden State Killer

Insights From a Sacramento Criminal Defense Attorney
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Public DNA Profiles in Criminal Investigations: The Golden State Killer

When law enforcement makes an arrest of a suspect in a high profile criminal investigation, it makes national headlines. When the arrest is made decades after the crime or crimes, it makes you wonder how the person got away with their crime for so long. Then, to hear that the arrest practically took place in your backyard, you begin to wonder about the people around you in your neighborhood and even who you might shop with at the grocery store. Citrus Heights is in the greater Sacramento area of California. Some people would say it is not a great city, but it is really not all that bad. I am a Sacramento criminal defense attorney so cases like that of the Golden State Killer really capture my attention.

Reliability of Media Reports on Criminal Investigations

It is important to realize that when you hear the media speaking of criminal investigations and suspects that have been arrested, it is not reliable. Although many things may be accurately reported, you cannot reasonably use what the media reports to make a determination if the suspect is guilty or innocent. We have all heard the presumption, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Well, it is true and should be respected. Let the wheels of justice spin.

Even though law enforcement may have evidence that is capable of proving a person is guilty does not mean that the evidence is actually going to be admitted if there is a criminal trial. One of the best tools a criminal defendant has at their disposal is the “Motion to Suppress Evidence”. The intention of the ability to exclude evidence from a trial is to deter police misconduct. This basically tells law enforcement, if you are going to gather evidence in a criminal case, you better do it lawfully or it will not be used against the defendant.

Golden State Killer Criminal Investigation

So here we are, interested in the investigation that led to the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer and we are all wondering how they were able to catch him after so many years. Well, it turns out that DNA evidence was preserved and they were able to find the killer based on the DNA samples they had. It is important to note that the killer is not only accused of murder but rape and burglaries. It took law enforcement many years to even connect all of the crimes. It may leave you wondering whether there were victims that did not report and whether law enforcement accurately connected all of the cases.

Public DNA Profiles in Criminal Investigations

Back to the DNA evidence. Well, law enforcement is often quite creative in their investigatory techniques. In the investigation of the Golden State Killer, the DNA profile found at different crimes scenes was submitted to genealogy websites such as ancestry.com. Submitting your DNA to these types of services allow you to find out who your relatives are to a certain degree of probability. When the results were in, law enforcement officers were able to focus in on about 100 different men that fit the age profile of the alleged Gold State Killer. They then narrowed it down to one individual, Joseph James DeAngelo, a retired law enforcement officer living in Citrus Heights, California. His current age, 72.

The use of public DNA profiles in criminal investigations brings to light several issues. One is the issue of privacy. Should law enforcement be able to use services such as ancestry.com to scour the DNA database in hopes of getting a lead in a criminal investigation? Well, if you are concerned about the privacy of you or your relatives, maybe you should not submit DNA samples to these types of services. Kind of like Facebook, if you don’t want someone finding out about it, don’t post it.

If you are being investigated or have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. You have rights and you must assert them in many situations. The Law Office of Justin Anton McCrea is available for a free telephone case evaluation should you need legal advice in Sacramento, Roseville, Auburn, Grass Valley, and surrounding areas.

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