Charles Brook, Jr., 66, was recently indicted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office on Massachusetts Sex Crimes and Murder Charges in connection with the 1989 Rape and killing of an 87 Boston woman.
At his arraignment in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court, prosecutors claimed that Charles Brook allegedly sexually assaulted and strangled Zahia Salem, then 87, on November 30, 1989. Her body was found a few hours later by her downstairs neighbor. No person was charged with the crime, until Boston Police were reportedly able to match Charles Brook’s DNA profile that was complied from a cigarette that was found at the scene.
Massachusetts law requires that every person convicted of a felony crime must submit their DNA sample to the state’s DNA database. Because DNA technology wasn’t advanced or even available years back, police departments across Massachusetts and the county are taking advantage of DNA database to link purported DNA profiles to unsolved cases.
Unfortunately, the public’s perception is that DNA profiling is conclusive, reliable and 100% accurate, but that is far from the truth. The reality is that, DNA evidence can be ‘reliable’ as well as ‘weak’. In far too many cases, even lawyers are overwhelmed by DNA evidence and often accept the state’s lab tests ‘conclusive’ or ‘unchallengeable’.
Although DNA testing relies in large part on computer-generated data, there is also a subjective component with the interpretation of test results. In those cases where the interpretation of the results, for example, may call for an ambiguous call, the state’s DNA analyst will almost always weight his/her opinion in favor of the government’s position.
Accordingly, the Charles Brook defense team will most certainly examine the DNA evidence in this case very closely, and seek to challenge its reliability at every level. Just as critical in a case involving DNA evidence that was recovered from evidence over 20 years ago, is whether the evidence was properly recovered, preserved, and was free from contamination.
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Attorney Lefteris K. Travayiakis may also be reached at email@example.com.