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Judge allows DNA from trash in 1981 murder case

March 18, 2020 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A judge has ruled prosecutors can use DNA evidence investigators pulled from the trash of a Sioux Falls woman charged with killing her newborn nearly 40 years ago.

Second Circuit Court Judge Susan Sabers this week denied a request from the defense attorney for Theresa Bentaas to suppress the evidence because investigators didn’t have a search warrant.

The Argus Leader reports Sabers noted that Bentaas voluntarily discarded the items tested in her trash.

“Because defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the items searched, the Fourth Amendment does not apply to the DNA testing performed on those items,” Sabers wrote. “Once law enforcement lawfully possessed those items, it was not an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to test those items for identification purposes.”

Bentaas, 58, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the 1981 death of the infant found abandoned in a cornfield ditch in Sioux Falls. The baby died of exposure.

She is scheduled for a three-week jury trial in April.