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Jury Deliberates in Restaurant Murder Case

DNAEvidence

A robbery gone wrong. That’s how Rafael Rodriguez lost his life. Three armed men entered Josephine’s Italian Restaurant donning masks and carrying guns. They ordered everyone to the floor where they robbed them. This was in 2013.

Now, six years later, one man is on trial for the murder of Rodriguez, a popular bartender who worked at the restaurant. Samuel Walker stands accused of first-degree murder. Three weeks after the restaurant robbery, police arrested Walker, Quinton Sylvestre, and Adalberto Montalvo in connection with a burglary. Detectives connected the three men to the restaurant robbery vis a vis a $20,000 watch that had been lifted in the heist. The watch held Walker’s DNA and the police later connected Walker’s DNA to a handgun used in the robbery. The police have also prevented cell phone evidence that places Walker and the other men in Boca Raton at the time of the robbery.

The defense did not call any witnesses in the case.

Case Comes Down to DNA Evidence 

The DNA evidence found on the gun and the watch link Walker to the crime, but do they prove Walker took part in the crime? The defense is arguing that it doesn’t.

DNA evidence presented at a trial can be very difficult for a defense attorney to argue against. This is despite the fact that the science behind DNA isn’t as firm as most believe. Juries tend to take it on faith that if your DNA winds up on a gun, that means you touched the gun. While that’s certainly possible, there are other possibilities as well.

Understanding Touch DNA 

Touch DNA is a forensic method of analyzing very small samples of trace DNA. Touch DNA requires seven or eight skin cells to be left behind but has also been criticized for leading to several false positives. For example, fingerprint brushes can transfer skin cells from one place to another.

So can hands. An extended handshake with someone who goes off and commits a crime can result in your skin cells being found at the crime scene. Because of this, the technique is more often used by the defense than it is by the prosecution which tends to rely on other evidence, such as fingerprints.

In this case, the entirety of the prosecution’s case is based on trace skin cells left on the gun and the watch. In fact, this is not a very good case against the defendant, who will likely be convicted anyway.

The Defense’s Approach 

In this case, the defense has elected not to present a case at all. Instead, they are picking apart the prosecution’s story. This happens in cases where the defense has no need to present a case of their own, but it’s a dangerous approach because, as often is the case even in criminal trials, the more compelling story wins. Here, the defense is simply stating that even though the defendant’s DNA was found on the gun and watch, he wasn’t involved in the crime. But the defendant has no alibi nor did the defense call expert witnesses testifying as to the unreliable nature of the touch DNA evidence.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney 

The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. represents those charged with crimes in the local area. Talk to us today before you talk to police.

Resources:

cbs12.com/news/local/prosecution-defense-rest-in-6-year-old-boca-restaurant-murder

sciencenews.org/article/long-handshake-spread-your-dna-objects-you-didnt-touch

https://www.skierlawfirm.com/jury-hung-in-podiatrist-rape-lawsuit/

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