Can Consumer DNA Tests Get Your Relatives Arrested? (Pt 2)

DNA is not quite the ‘magic bullet’ you’ve been led to believe it is!


Welcome back, and thanks for joining us here at The Kronzek Firm for our continuing discussion on consumer DNA testing. As we shared with you in the previous article, the man believed to be the Golden State Killer was apprehended recently as a result of a DNA test done by a distant relative of his. She had hoped to discover more details of her father’s family tree, and what she found instead was that he was distantly related to a potential rapist and murderer.


So the question everyone is asking now, is whether or not it’s a good idea to voluntarily submit your DNA for testing. You may learn a few interesting facts about your genealogy, or discover that you’re at risk for cystic fibrosis or breast cancer. You can also be tested for allergies. But you might also get one of your relatives arrested. At what point does the benefit of additional knowledge outweigh the risk to your family?


But surely DNA is infallible? And only criminals go to prison?


You’re probably thinking what lots of other people are – that who cares if some distant relative you’ve never met before goes to prison for a heinous crime? After all, if you rape and murder people, why would I protect you simply because we share some DNA markers? An understandable perspective, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here.


Ever heard of the Phantom of Heilbronn? A female serial killer whose DNA was found at more than 40 crime scenes in Germany, France and Austria. She left her DNA on all sorts of things found at the murder scenes – cars, cookies, drugs. It made no sense. She was a complete mystery. That is, until it was discovered that a certain female worker in an Austrian cotton swab factory had accidentally contaminated the swabs that European police departments were using to collect DNA samples at crime scenes.


Finding someone’s DNA at a crime scene doesn’t make them guilty of a crime!


16-year-old Josiah Sutton was convicted, along with his friend, of raping a woman in the back of her Ford Explorer. Despite the fact that both boys had alibis, the DNA extracted from the semen and saliva found on the victim were a match. Sutton was sent to prison. It was four years before his mother was able to convince a TV station to take up his cause. It was later discovered that the lab tech who had made grave errors in analyzing the DNA samples taken from the accused. In fact, our own Attorney Chuck Kronzek tried and won a DNA based sex assault case right in Ottawa County, Michigan.


As for the Golden State Killer, remember that FBI had been convinced that an innocent 73-year-old man was the killer, simply because he carried some of the same DNA markers as the suspect. It took extensive court ordered testing and lengthy investigations to rule him out, before the old man’s daughter was able to pinpoint another possible match in her father’s family tree.


DNA testing is sometimes not the ‘magic bullet’ you’ve been led to believe it is.


We’re not trying to tell you never to get a genealogy test done, or check for breast cancer risk. We not suggesting you give up on your dreams of discovering your ancestry, or finding out if you’re likely to pass on a rare disease to your future children. What we are saying, however, is to be careful. Be thoughtful and deliberate with your private information. Because once you hand out your genetic data, it’s forever. You cannot take it back.


If you or a loved one have been charged with a serious crime in Michigan, and you need help from a skilled criminal defense attorney, call The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail). We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays for consultation and crisis intervention. We’ve been fighting for our clients all over the lower peninsula of Michigan since that last century. We can help you too.


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