Quantcast
Connect with us

First US murder conviction overturned using DNA, family tree evidence

Published

on

An American man was exonerated Wednesday for a decades-old murder he did not commit, using evidence based on DNA and a genetic family tree, the first such result using a revolutionary investigative technique.

Christopher Tapp, 43, had served 20 of his 30-year sentence for the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Wednesday, a court in the state of Idaho completely overturned his conviction based on evidence found with “genetic genealogy” — the technique used to identify the suspected “Golden State Killer” by making DNA matches with his distant relatives.

“It’s a new life, a new beginning, a new world for me, and I’m just gonna enjoy every day,” Tapp said at the end of the hearing, local media reported.

Tapp’s exoneration came after police arrested another suspect, Brian Dripps, in May. Dripps, who was identified using genetic genealogy, confessed to the crime.

Genetic genealogy first made headlines in April 2018, after it was used to find the alleged “Golden State Killer” in California who is blamed for 12 murders and more than 50 rapes dating back to the mid-1970s.

ADVERTISEMENT

In that case — as well as about 70 others that have been solved since — DNA found at crime scenes was compared to the databases for genealogy websites.

The websites — widely advertised in the United States — allow users to post DNA test results and then generate a list of people with similar genomes, enabling users to find distant relatives.

The databases also allow police officers to search through people with similar genetic profiles to DNA found at crime scenes. Tracing back through family trees and seeing where the DNA crosses can lead investigators to a suspect.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Tapp’s case is the first in which genetic genealogy has been used to prove innocence.

“It’s just such an incredible feeling to be a part of clearing an innocent man’s name,” CeCe Moore, the genetic genealogist who worked on the case, said in an interview with ABC.

The case against Tapp began to crumble before investigators started to use genetic genealogy.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1998, Tapp was sentenced to 30 years in prison based solely on his confession, which he then retracted.

In 2017, he was freed from prison in a court agreement, but the murder charge was not dropped.

A year later, his defense team obtained the right to test sperm traces found in Angie Dodge’s bedroom. Genetic genealogy led investigators to Brian Dripps.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dripps, who in 1996 lived just across the street from Dodge, confessed to the crime after officers tested a cigarette butt he had thrown away against the crime scene DNA.

The Idaho Bonneville County prosecutor withdrew the charges against Tapp and filed a motion to exonerate him, which a judge endorsed on Wednesday.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China

Published

on

Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.

Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs

Published

on

President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.

But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan

Published

on

Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.

Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.

It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.

"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image