Preserving biological evidence from crime scenes is critically important because DNA can provide the best evidence of innocence – or guilt – upon review of a case. It can also help solve cold cases. But when evidence isn’t preserved, none of that is possible.
A Brooklyn, New York resident was recently informed that vital evidence from his brother’s 1983 murder was thrown out more than a decade ago. Without the evidence, Reginald Agius fears his brother’s death will remain unsolved.
Agius told the New York Daily News that the discarded evidence included a bloody hat, a partial fingerprint sample, a knife and a cigarette butt recovered at the scene.
“What right does the Police Department have to throw away evidence on a murder case?” asked Agius, 62. “They know murder cases are never closed. There’s no statute of limitations. . . . I want justice.”
“It’s not just me. How many other murders were committed and their loved ones don’t know if the guy will be caught because their evidence was thrown out?” asked Agius. “This is an atrocity.”
Godfrey Agius was working on a car in his home garage when he heard noises coming from upstairs. When he went to see where they were coming from, he found an intruder who proceeded to stab him several times in the head and chest during a struggle.
Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, who hunts old DNA to free people jailed by mistake, has called lost evidence a “big problem in New York City.”
Scheck said his group asked for DNA in 46 city cases from 2004 to 2009 and found that the genetic evidence in 27 couldn’t be found.
Agius checks in with police every six to eight months to see if there has been progress in the investigation. Through the years, there have been at least six detectives that worked on his brother’s case.
None of the nation’s 266 DNA exonerations would have been possible had the biological evidence not been available to test.