Male DNA identified but not disclosed during Holtzclaw trial
It was DNA that helped seal the fate of Daniel Holtzclaw. From jury members who have spoken about the case publicly to members of the public who followed the trial, the DNA evidence presented in court was damning to the defense.
Prosecutors presented a case that was largely circumstantial evidence, but a police crime lab analyst provided the testimony that told how DNA from one of the victims was found on the inside of the zipper on Holtzclaw’s uniform pants.
After the conviction, a biologist from Iowa read about the case online. It was not hard to find headlines of the former cop sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting a number of women while on patrol.
However, what drew Erica Fuchs to the case was the mention of DNA. Fuchs deals with DNA and has been a lab researcher and was surprised when she could not find out more about this crucial piece of evidence.
She contacted the Holtzclaw family to see if she could review a copy of the laboratory reports.
“Right away I could see that both samples had a “Y” chromosome in them,” Fuchs told FOX 25, “So this told me that there was DNA from at least one male in both of the samples.”
The police analyst told the jury that Holtzclaw's DNA was not found, which prosecutors said helped prove sexual assault. However Fuchs says even that conclusion was not scientifically sound because the DNA samples found were so small. Besides, it wasn’t just the male DNA that wasn’t identified. There were other profiles that contributed to the sample, but the jury was only told about one.
“Those two samples during the analyst's testimony she said had no evidence of male DNA in them, but actually both of those samples did,” Fuchs said.
The presence of male DNA could mean a number of things. It could mean that there as a male victim sexually assaulted, but never identified.
However Fuchs says due to the miniscule amount of DNA found in total, the unknown samples adds to the argument made by the defense that the DNA was there due to innocent transfer. DNA, Fuchs said, can be transferred from person to person or from person to object to another person. Defense attorneys during Holtzclaw’s trial argued that since he had searched the victim’s belongings he could have picked up a skin cell and then touched his pants.
There is also another possibility.
“The sex crimes detectives were handling items in ways that could have led to DNA transferring to the fly of the pants,” Fuchs said. She noted in particular an interrogation video showed a detective opening the evidence bag in which Holtzclaw’s uniform was placed, with his bare hands.
Fuchs is also concerned about the lack of testing performed by the Oklahoma City Police crime lab. While tests for bodily fluids and even vaginal fluids are available, they were not performed in a case that alleged sexual assault. Despite that fact prosecutors told jurors that the victim’s DNA found on Holtzclaw’s pants came from vaginal walls. Fuchs says it is scientifically impossible to identify where the DNA originated.
During the secret court hearings that have become the latest controversy to surround this high-profile case, FOX 25 has learned DNA was part of the discussion.
The court ordered the hearings sealed. Attorneys representing Holtzclaw on his appeal were not even allowed to attend. However, one person FOX 25 has confirmed was in attendance was the supervisor of the police DNA lab. He was there for both days of the hearing that only involved prosecutors and a judge.
While no one is talking on the record about what happened during that hearing, the appeals court ordered it just days after receiving a request from several DNA experts, including Fuchs, to provide the court with information about scientific flaws presented at trial.