Defense Attorney Opposes Prosecution’s Motion to Obtain Accused’s DNA – Despite Argument, Judge Allows It

By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – The defense here in Yolo County Superior Court late last week argued a suspect’s DNA evidence should not be provided to the prosecution, but the judge overruled the objection, siding with the prosecution.

But that was over the argument of the defense about why a motion to compel DNA evidence from the accused should be denied.

“There’s never been any showing that there’s actually any DNA on the sample that was taken, and I think first the (prosecution) would have to show that there is actually DNA that is extractable and identifiable on the weapon,” said Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez.

Christopher London Moore has been charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors, among them possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm in a vehicle when they are not allowed lawful possession of the firearm.

Initially, DPD Gonzalez asked Judge Peter Williams if the hearing could be moved to a later date, to give the judge time to read the motion.

Judge Williams denied the defense request and decided to hold the hearing, and hear both the defense and prosecution’s arguments against and for the motion, commenting, “this is a motion to compel, this is a DNA swab. It’s not a blood draw…Mr. Gonzalez, go ahead and tell me why you oppose it or under what grounds.”

DPD Gonzalez first raised the question of whether the DNA sample from Moore was needed in the first place.

“In the discovery that the People provided me it shows that there’s already been a DNA sample taken from Mr. Moore,” argued the DPD, and maintained there wasn’t even any DNA taken from the weapon, “because that would be the premise for comparing it to any DNA that’s taken from Mr. Moore.”

DPD Gonzalez summarized that “this leads me to two points, one, there already is a sample that’s documented in the discovery that the People provided me, [and] two, there hasn’t been a showing that any DNA is actually comparable to any sample that was taken from the weapon that the People are pointing out.”

Judge Williams dismissed these points and asked about the legal standard for obtaining DNA swab evidence. 

Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo doubted if there really was a standard for it, but added that, up to this hearing, every time the motion to compel has been brought up in Judge Williams’ court it has been granted.

DDA Palumbo explained the supposed need for the DNA swab sample from Moore, noting, “I can indicate to the court that the need for the particular DNA reference sample is that I spoke to a DNA expert from the Department of Justice just yesterday to confirm this.”

DDA Palumbo added, “When you take a sample from an object like a gun, they [Department of Justice] cannot upload that into CODIS [national DNA database] and compare it and search it against a CODIS hit, they have to have a separate direct reference sample to compare it to.”

DDA Palumbo assured Judge Williams the DNA swab procedure was “not intrusive, not invasive, it involves swabbing the inside of his [the defendant’s] cheek, it takes about two seconds.”

Lastly, DDA Palumbo asked Judge Williams that, if the motion were granted, the county sheriff’s crime scene investigator be permitted to go to the jail where the defendant was housed and obtain the DNA sample there.

After granting this DNA request, Judge Williams set bail at $200,000, and moved the original trial setting conference to Dec. 11. 

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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