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Lawsuit shows tainted evidence may lead to false allegations

When a person is arrested in Virginia, evidence is a key factor in the case. This is true for relatively minor crimes like marijuana possession and for major crimes like murder. During an investigation, law enforcement is required to adhere to certain protocol in evidence collection. If there is a violation, it could be used as part of the criminal defense.

A case in California in which a detective took a suspect’s personal items when he did not have the legal right to do so might have negatively impacted the investigation. In court, the detective admitted that he wrongly took the items. The detective, now retired, was investigating a case in which a man who was employed by the police department as a criminalist was accused of murdering a 14-year-old girl. It was a cold case that happened in 1984.

The criminalist subsequently killed himself in 2012 when it was discovered that a vaginal swab of the girl showed his sperm. His wife has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department. It was common in her husband’s laboratory that workers used their own semen as control samples when conducting tests on evidence. She says that his semen was there through cross-contamination.

Detectives removed 14 boxes of personal items from their home and never returned them. The items were found to be irrelevant to the investigation and were returned after the man died. Although this is a wrongful death case and that is why the information came to light, it shows how investigations can sometimes be called into question due to missteps. When a person is arrested for any crime, having a legal defense to assess the case from every angle may be critical. A law firm experienced in sex crimes, violent crimes and more might be able to help.

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