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Name: People v. Nelson
Case #: C047366
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/31/2006
Subsequent History: 11/15/06 review granted: S147051

The victim in this murder case was murdered in 1976. In 2002, a DNA profile derived from crime scene evidence was searched through the DNA databank, and Nelson was identified as a match. Nelson was convicted of felony murder. On appeal, he argued that the delay between the date of the offense and the filing of the complaint violated his due process right to a speedy trial. He also argued that the DNA evidence should not have been presented to the jury because there is no general scientific acceptance of a statistical means of explaining the results of a DNA comparison when a DNA databank is used to identify a potential candidate. The appellate court rejected the arguments. The 26 year delay in prosecution was not the result of negligence or for the purpose of gaining an advantage over the defendant. The delay occurred because of the limits of technology at the time of the initial investigation. The prosecution proceeded promptly when technology advanced to the point of the DNA databank. Further, like the use of a fingerprint database search to identify suspects, a DNA databank search does not implicate the concerns addressed in People v. Kelly. The databank searched only identified appellant as a suspect, it was not the basis for declaring that his DNA matched the DNA on the evidence. That determination was made based upon further complete testing which utilized techniques found reliable under Kelly.