We all have talents; some people are fairly athletic, some are book smart, even luckier are the people who can be both. Sometimes there are even more amazing talents that people can’t even fathom in their wildest imaginations.
How can a man be passed out and somehow be somewhere else? A twin? A clone? Maybe mistaken identity? What if it was none of those but the man himself was at both places at the same time?
It’s no surprise when you hear a story about an innocent man who was imprisoned wrongly for crimes. That happens so often that it honestly doesn’t turn heads much anymore, though the circumstances are always a little different. Mistaken identity is more often the culprit or even a misplaced memory.
Memory is a funny thing after all, if you’re under enough stress the brain doesn’t really process it very well and you can easily convince yourself that a lie is the truth. It isn’t anyone’s fault really, that’s just how these things tend to happen sometimes and everyone is prone to mistakes
Old and New
What isn’t so common is when newer investigative tools fail so badly. Classically, when searching for a suspect, everyone is familiar with some of the more classic ways of matching a suspect to a crime scene. It starts with a witness to some crime, whatever that may be, giving their information to police and then having a sketch get crafted.
Line Up For Fun
The suspects are lined up, people who look somewhat like the sketch, and the witness is brought in, placed in that stereotypical line up and the likely person is identified and pulled into a separate room for interrogation. Hooked up to a polygraph and made to talk so we can tell if they are really speaking the truth…
Anything Can Lie
That is assuming that they aren’t sweating or nervous or anxious or any other of the hundreds of things that can trick the test. Nowadays, investigators have a new tool at their disposal to help them catch the actual killer, DNA evidence. Even a single hair or a few skin cells can be enough to get all the evidence they need to link you to a crime or crime scene
Unique To You
What is great about DNA evidence as part of a murder or robbery case is that everyone has their own unique sequence, well 99.7% of the population does at any rate as identical twins are perfect genetic copies. But excluding that 0.3% of the population your DNA will be able to link you to you.
1987 Was A Good Year
The first instance of DNA linking someone to a murder case was in England in 1987, involving two murder and rape victims set three years apart. At the time of the crime someone had come forward to confess to the killing of one of the girls but taking a small sample of cells, investigators were able to rule out the suspect, and eventually catch his friend who had actually done it.
Simpson Did It
Probably one of the most famous cases for DNA evidence being used was actually when it was almost completely forgotten about by the jurors during the case of OJ Simpson in the murder of his ex-wife. Here the jury was subjected to such long and lengthy explanations of how DNA testing works that they became numb to the information and disregarded it despite its accuracy and scientific integrity.
Safety First… For Once
In nearly every instance where an investigator uses DNA as part of their evidence, the findings that they make are accurate and the right person is convicted of the crime without risking sending an innocent man to jail just because he might have been at the wrong place at the wrong time and someone thought they saw him nearby.
However, what if someone was never at the wrong place at the wrong time, in fact what if someone was never even near the place at any time and they never knew the victim or that a crime ever happened? How could a man be convicted using DNA, a unique fingerprint, to a crime that he wasn’t anywhere near?
For Lukas Anderson, a 26-year-old resident of San Jose, that became the biggest question in the room during his court appearance. He was charged with being party to the murder of 63-year-old Raveesh Kumra at his mansion late one night in November along with two other people and a prostitute. None of whom he had ever met before.
People Aren’t Packages
Raveesh Kumra was murdered by unknown assailants during what had originally been a robbery at his home. The victim was tied up and gagged with packing tape which would ultimately be the cause of his death as the amount of tape that was used caused him to suffocate before police or his wife could reach him to remove it…
When paramedics and police did arrive on the scene, Raveesh’s wife, Harinder informed police of what happened and what was taken from their home. In the meantime the paramedics on the scene were dealing with moving the body and removing it from the home so that samples could be taken and the body examined.
The Mystery Man
A week later Lukas was arrested, and spend five months in jail waiting for trial, but something didn’t add up. Lukas as it turned out, and as his lawyer would bring up, had a very strong alibi at the time of the murder. He was drunk and passed out cold in the hospital during the murder, 2 hours before, as well as for another 12 hours after the fact…
So how could it be possible that his DNA was anywhere near the crime scene, let alone on the body of a dead man? Could they have mistakenly run into each other at a bar perhaps and never known they had met? A chance encounter that would have let a hair or two get on someone clothes perhaps?
How Was Your Day
That doesn’t seem all that implausible in the grand scheme of things. Think of your day, the walks you take, maybe you went out to eat, or to the store. It wouldn’t be all that hard to imagine that you could have bumped into someone lightly, and it wouldn’t honestly take more than that for a piece of hair to fall…
While that would be all well and good, the DNA in question was found underneath the nails of the victim which did nothing but confuse everyone. What then could these two people, who had never met, possibly have in common? Investigators began their search into the day of the murder for both Raveesh and Lukas
Amazingly the two had a very unlikely connecting thread, the paramedics. Specifically the same paramedics. Two hours before the paramedics arrived on the scene to address the body of Raveesh, the same pair of medics were helping a very drunk Lukas get to the hospital for his severe drunkenness.
The Carrier Of People
After helping Lukas get to the hospital the medics would have been contaminated with his skin on their gloves, arms, and uniform as they assisted him. When they then went on their second call, to the murder victim, they became the agents that carried the DNA from one location to the next and in doing so placed a drunk man at the scene of a crime he didn’t have anything to do with.
Wash Your Hands
While investigators are glad that the mystery was solved and they were able to exonerate an innocent man, the lawyers were wondering why there was any cross contamination in the first place. A representative for the company said they follow all safety protocols but wouldn’t comment further. The takeaway from this is that no matter how advanced the test, nothing is perfect, and human error will always play some part in the story. Oh, and you should always wash your hands….Just in case.