Thanks to modern-day technology, such as DNA testing, more and more innocent people are being exonerated from crimes they allegedly committed years ago. On the other end of the spectrum, the same technology is being used to help put away guilty criminals from previous crimes, to help serve justice, and keep our world safer from potential, additional offenses. Our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers believe using these new technologies will become more prevalent as the technologies continue to progress.
DNA Testing Links Las Vegas Man to Sexual Assault
In a recent Las Vegas case, one such criminal, Dwayne Downing, age 19, has been roaming free since 2016 when he was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Thanks to DNA testing, he is now identified as inextricably linked to the sexual assault of the minor. He is being charged with open or gross lewdness and sexually assaulting a child under the age of 16. He was officially arrested on December 5th and sent to the Clark County Detention Center.
The details of his case are saddening. The suspect allegedly raped a young girl at a party after she was passed out, and the girl became pregnant after his offense. Why did the young girl believe that her assaulter was the father of her child? Because, according to the victim, she had never had sex before in her life.
The young girl’s parents brought her to have an abortion after the crime, and a DNA test was performed on the aborted fetus in an attempt to identify a suspect.
What Are the Details From the Night of the Crime?
The young girl didn’t recall much from the night of her assault. She had met up with a group of friends in a parking lot on the evening of the incident, and they had traveled together to a friend’s house where much vodka was consumed by the group. Later, more alcohol was acquired from a nearby 7-Eleven. The victim does not recall details after the 7-Eleven.
Her only memory is of waking up the next day at a different friend’s house, though she doesn’t recall how she got there. As per the Metro Police Report, “her underwear were… wet.” As well, there were bruises all over her body, leaving her so sore that she couldn’t walk comfortably.
After she woke up, the girl’s friends informed her that the previous night, a group of five boys had followed them back from 7-Eleven and invited themselves to the house party. They quickly took charge of the party; a witness told police. The victim was passed out on the bathroom floor, and someone went to check on her. He said he could hear her being kissed by someone in the bathroom, behind the closed door. He told police that “you could tell she didn’t want it.”
A Confrontation and Weapon Brandished
Moments later, the suspect left the bathroom, and the victim’s friends found the girl lying naked on the bathroom floor. She was carried to a couch, put back in clothes, and covered with blankets. At that point, several of the known friends confronted the boys from the 7-Eleven about what had happened. The boys from the 7-Eleven were bragging about having assaulted the girl, and the known friends were becoming upset. This confrontation led to the boys from the 7-Eleven pulling out guns and threatening everyone else at the party.
It took a full hour before the 7-Eleven boys left the party. Once they did, the victim’s friends returned to the couch to find her topless with her pants and underwear around her knees. They put her back in clothes and brought her to another friend’s house, where she would sleep through the night until the morning.
The suspect told police that he didn’t do anything more than kiss the victim. And though his DNA was found on her clothes, linking him to the crime, the police report “excluded [him] as the biological father” of the aborted fetus. So, one suspect has been arrested, but at least one other suspect still roams free.
Questions Still Remain About Using DNA in Police Investigations
Genetic genealogy – or DNA testing – is thought to be a controversial law enforcement investigative technique. It differs from traditional DNA testing in that it uses evidence from a crime scene to identify a suspect listed in a law enforcement database. It’s an expensive technique, estimated to cost between $5,000 and $20,000 per case. As well, a large enough amount of quality DNA must be available for the match to be viable. There are also privacy concerns.
Some say the setbacks are minor compared to the fact that this technique helps get criminals off the streets. Others worry that taxpayers’ dollars are being used and wonder how successful police have really been so far in implementing this new technology.
One way or another, DNA testing is a helpful, new technological tool being used by law enforcement across the nation, and it’s sure to be refined and improved in years to come.