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DNA Transfer by EMS Personnel Leads to Wrongful Arrest

An innocent man sat in a Southern California jail for five months because EMS personnel who transported him to the hospital inadvertently deposited his DNA at a murder scene they later responded to.

The unbelievable story of the arrest and incarceration of 26-year-old Lukis Anderson for the murder of millionaire Raveesh Kumra, is troubling given our assumptions that DNA evidence is virtually iron-clad.

How a Rural Metro ambulance crew was able to transfer one patient’s DNA to another scene is just as troubling on a number of very practical levels: evidence-wise, infection control-wise, and occupational safety-wise.


 

Comments - Add Yours

  • Dalmatian90

    Interesting!

    I know for ~15 years here the state fire investigators have tried to train FDs to have non-interior personnel such as pump operators to refuel equipment like chainsaws and generators, to minimize contamination from splashes onto bunker gear.  

    Arson dogs would then pickup the cross-contamination and the investigators would spend time explaining additional samples away.

    • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

      Excellent point Dalmation90!!!!

      I am surprised more defense attorneys do not raise it – but most have no idea about what goes on at a fire scene.

  • RSTARK

    How many times have you stepped in blood and didn't realize it. How many times has this blood been transferred to another scene without you realizing it. How many times has a hair strand from one patient stuck to the stretcher or your pants leg and then fell off at another patients home. We clean our equipment after each call, but sometimes you miss something. We do not work in a sterile environment. 

    • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

      RStark

      I know – but when you think about the overwhelming credibility and faith we put in DNA evidence – and yet how easy it can be to inadvertantly contaminate a scene it is pretty unsettling.

      The poor guy sat in jail for 5 months…

  • Jim

    This really brings home the point of thourghly cleaning your equiptment and yourselves after ever run. It is scary enough to think that they were able to transfer enough of a tissue sample to this other scene to be discovered by the lab and put this poor guy in jail, just think where else it could have been deposited, at the crews home around their family, a chronically ill patients home, their station, it goes on and on. Thanks for the story Curt!