Bergen County NJ prosecutors plan to use a new, “next generation” test to analyze DNA evidence in a highly publicized East Rutherford murder case.
According to officials, the 40-year-old suspect killed a 70-year-old woman in her home in East Rutherford, New Jersey. After allegedly beating the woman to death, the suspect, who lives in Wood-Ridge NJ, reportedly set fire to her body and attempted to destroy evidence of the murder.
Medical examiners later concluded that the victim’s death was a result of blunt force trauma to the head. Investigators do not presently believe that the suspect used any kind of weapon to commit the homicide.
The alleged murder occurred in September 2012. Police identified the suspect as the possible killer and conducted surveillance on him. Authorities eventually arrested the suspect for the crime.
The suspect and the victim were reportedly longtime acquaintances, with the victim working for the suspect’s father at Kurgan-Bergen Realty for approximately 25 years. The suspect also reportedly worked at his father’s real estate office.
After being placed under arrest, the suspect was charged with several crimes, including first degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated arson, burglary, hindering apprehension, and resisting arrest.
Now prosecutors in the case plan to use a new test to analyze infinitesimal DNA evidence that they say links the suspect to the murder. The profiling technique is known as low copy number (LCN) typing because it can reportedly connect a suspect to evidence of just a few cells of DNA.
The blood cells in this case were discovered by detectives in a kitchen sink at an apartment on Van Winkle Street in East Rutherford NJ, which is more than a mile away from the location of the murder. Prosecutors are operating under the assumption that the suspect left the trace amounts of DNA when he tried to clean himself after the homicide.
The suspect’s defense attorney attempted to get the test results excluded from trial in Bergen County Superior Court. He argued that the test is scientifically unreliable and that the DNA test results are easily contaminated. However, the superior court judge rejected the defense attorney’s arguments and ruled that the test results would be admissible at the murder trial.
The defense attorney said that he plans to appeal the superior court judge’s decision.
Until this case, just one lab in the entire country, located in New York City, has used the new DNA test for criminal prosecutions. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City has reportedly used the DNA test to link suspects to crimes in 140 cases.
If the suspect in this case is eventually convicted of first degree murder, he faces life imprisonment in NJ State Prison.
To learn more about this case, read the NJ.com article entitled “New DNA Test to Make N.J. Debut in Murder Trial, Report Says.”