DNA AND TRANSFERENCE: THE LUKIS ANDERSON STORY
Oct. 5, 2019
In late 2012, Raveesh Kumra, a wealthy investor in San Jose, California was murdered in his home during a home-invasion robbery. Mr. Kumra was found blindfolded, tied and gaged. He suffocated to death on tape used to silence him. The investigation led to a belief that a prostitute had provided local gang members with information about the layout of the victim's home as well as the valuables inside.
As is protocol in murder cases, evidentiary samples were collected from the scene and from Mr. Kumra's body. An DNA analysis of the evidence collected from Mr. Kumra produced, among other things, a match for one Lukis Anderson. As a result of the DNA match, Mr. Anderson was arrested, charged with capital murder and held in jail.
Mr. Anderson, however, maintained his innocence. He claimed to have an alibi for the night in question. He insisted that he was not at the home of Mr. Kumra, but rather, was in the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (due to complications of extreme intoxication.) At first, his claim was rejected as being contrary to the "undeniable" DNA evidence. Who would believe a drunk over DNA evidence? Well fortunately for Mr. Anderson, the medical records showed he was in fact admitted to the hospital prior to the death of Mr. Kumra. Yet, even in spite of a solid alibi, prosecutors were reluctant to dismiss the charges.
If Mr. Anderson was not involved in the robbery/murder how did his DNA get on Mr. Kumra's body? Until that could be explained, Mr. Anderson would be held in jail. The answer was eventually found. The paramedics who transported Mr. Anderson to the hospital were the same ones who responded to the Mr. Kumra's house. It is believed that the paramedics must have accidentally transferred Mr. Anderson's DNA to Mr. Kumra.
The purpose of the story is illustrate that DNA evidence is not absolute. While it can help provide some answers there are limits to DNA evidence, and often the questions it cannot answer are the ones that should be asked.