Judge allows critical DNA evidence in runner slaying case
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A judge denied a motion Tuesday to suppress DNA evidence collected from a man suspected of killing a Google employee from New York who went missing in 2016 while out for a run in Massachusetts, meaning it can now be admitted at trial.
Angelo Colon-Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the death of Vanessa Marcotte, 27, in the town of Princeton, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Boston.
Colon-Ortiz’s lawyers argued in their motion that DNA samples collected from their client by state police in March 2017 were obtained illegally because police did not have a warrant, because a consent form in Spanish explaining Colon-Ortiz’ rights was not properly translated, and because the state police did not send a trooper with adequate Spanish translation skills to his home.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker in her decision said even though there was a problem with the form, “Considering the totality of circumstances in this case, the consent form, together with the interview with police, conveyed” that they were looking for a DNA sample.
Colon-Ortiz’s attorney, Eduardo Masferrer, said he was “disappointed” with the judge’s decision and may appeal.
Colon-Ortiz barely understood the trooper’s translation, Masferrer said.
“The court clearly indicated that the form raised ‘serious concerns’ and is the product of carelessness,” and contained “a litany of errors,” Masferrer said in a statement.
And although the form was largely “confusing and nonsensical to a non-English speaker,” the court found that because one sentence was clear, his client would understand the rights he was giving up, he said.
According to prosecutors, Colon-Ortiz’s DNA matched DNA found underneath Marcotte’s fingernails.
Marcotte was visiting her mother in 2016 when she failed to return from a run. Her body was found hours later in the nearby woods.
Colon-Ortiz worked as a delivery driver at the time of the killing and was familiar with Princeton and the surrounding area, prosecutors have said.