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San Jose Defendant Facing Death Row Acquitted Because of Flimsy DNA Evidence

June 22, 2020

Fred Thiagarajah

On June 19, 2020, a jury found a San Jose man not guilty of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s 2-year old son. Manuel Lopez was arrested and charged with this horrific crime because the prosecution believed that Lopez’s DNA was present in large quantities in the house and linked to the boy’s injuries. However, the defense was able to attack the DNA evidence with expert testimony and show the jury there was no connection between Lopez’s DNA and the boy’s injuries. There are a few important takeaways from a case like this. First, the defense must never simply accept the prosecution’s theory of the case – they must find ways to attack everything. Second, DNA isn’t always a reliable scientific method and through expert testimony, its weaknesses can be exposed. Third, this case may yet be another reason why the death penalty should exist – the DA’s office was willing to condemn a man to death on what was ultimately proven to be faulty DNA analysis. To read more about Mr. Lopez’s case, click here.

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