30 years ago, John Floyd was convicted of murdering William Hines in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In February 2010, Judge Benedict Willard denied Mr. Floyd a new trial despite significant new evidence, including DNA evidence, of his innocence. Much of this evidence has been withheld by the State of Louisiana for over 28 years.

The Facts:

  • Mr. Floyd was tried for the murders of William Hines and Rodney Robinson at a bench trial in 1982
  • The two victims were murdered within the same week in 1980, within a mile of each other in identical circumstances
  • Both victims were gay men who had sex with their killer immediately before being murdered
  • Both victims were stabbed in the neck and torso
  • Police found half-filled whiskey glasses at both crime scenes
  • The state’s case against Mr. Floyd relied on very similar confessions which Floyd made in 1981
  • The confessions were obtained by Detective John Dillmann, who had been previously chastised by the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1980 for betting a suspect into confessing on a different case and was again chastised in Supreme Court in 1995 for improper law enforcement and prosecution practices

At the William Hines Crime scene, police found negroid pubic hairs in the victim’s bed. (Mr. Floyd and Mr. Hines are both white). Two half filled whiskey Glasses were also found.

At the Rodney Robinson Crime scene, police again found two whiskey glasses, semen on a napkin next to the victim’s bed and semen found in anal swabs of the victim, a hat containing negroid head hair (not Rodney Robinsons and Mr. Floyd is white) found in the corridor between the victim’s hotel room and the service elevator. A security guard witness claims to have seen a black man running from the service elevator and into the street immediately after Mr. Robinson was stabbed (not wearing a hat and looking behind him as he ran). Mr. Robinson also had Type O blood.

Blood typing from the Robinson crime scene excluded John Floyd as the man who had sex with the victim immediately before he was killed. This evidence led to the acquittal of Floyd in the murder of Rodney Robinson.

Unfortunately, due to the signed confession by Mr. Floyd to the murder of William Hines, the fact that the physical evidence at both nearly identical crime scenes pointed to someone else, Mr. Floyd was found guilt of murdering William Hines while being acquitted of murdering Rodney Robinson at the same trial.

It was discovered that during the investigation phase that investigators had mishandled the crime scene, failed to disclose exculpatory evidence and made probative testing unavailable to the defense by hiding testable evidence. Additionally, the hair analyst at the trial testified that the pubic hairs at the Hines crime scene and the head hairs at the Robinson crime scene could not be compared because you cannot compare head hairs to pubic hairs.

All evidence from the Hines crime scene was destroyed many years ago.

The innocence project of New Orleans has obtained never-before disclosed fingerprints from the whiskey glasses at the Robinson crime scene and from a whiskey bottle at the Hines crime scene that were compared by the police to John Floyd and the victims. The results from each crime scene were that the prints came from neither John Floyd, nor the victims. It was discovered that the results of these fingerprint comparisons were never even turned over to the Assistant District Attorney’s prosecuting the case and were never even turned over to Floyd’s lawyer. The fingerprint evidence was discovered over 27 years after the comparison was performed.

DNA testing on the evidence remaining from the Robinson crime scene shows that contrary to the analyst’s testimony at trial, there were pubic hairs found at both crime scenes that could have been compared. Mitochondrial DNA Testing performed on these hairs conclusively excludes Mr. Floyd as the donor of the pubic hairs and establishes that an unknown black man was in bed with the victims immediately before their murders.

The eyewitness testimony, along with the fingerprint evidence and the DNA testing evidence means that it is absolutely certain that Mr. Floyd did not commit the murder regardless of his confession. Recent psychological testing shows that Mr. Floyd has a 59 IQ and highly suggestible and compliant, making him susceptible to police pressure when they interrogate. The only evidence that the State had in the murder trial was Mr. Floyd’s confession. It has already been proven that Mr. Floyd gave a false confession to the Hines murder.

After hearing hours of testimony in February 2010, Judge Willard wished Mr. Floyd luck in the ongoing appellate process. The Innocence Project of New Orleans is now trying to get the ruling overturned by the State Supreme Court.

As DNA technology gets better and test prices cheaper, Over the counter DNA testing kits have sprung up in just about every major drugstore. For the last couple of years individuals have been able to go to their local drugstore and pick up for about $30 a DNA testing kit.  You swab the people you want to test and mail it back to the lab alaong with an additional $129 or so and wait for your results.  What’s baffling about this is that thousands of people per year buy this kit to answer what for many may be one of the biggest questions in their lives–Am I the father?  This practice is akin to someone shopping for the cheapest heart surgeon.

The fact is, is that there is no guarantee of results on these over the counter kits.  While a 0% result means that you are not the father, what does a 30%, 50%, 80% result actually mean?  Does any of those results give you the peace of mind that you are searching for or does it just open it up for more questions.  Most if not all respectable labs guarantee a result of 0% or 99%+, that way you can be reasonably assured that the answer you get back will truly give you the peace of mind that you are looking for.

When searching for a DNA test that you can trust to give you the peace of mind you are looking for ask these simple questions:

Is the company you are using or their lab accredited?  If not, their standards may not be very high and the results could be affected.

Are the results guaranteed to be either 0% or 99% or higher?  Anything in between will still leave you with questions.

Will you have a dedicated case manager throughout the process? Nobody likes to tell their story to multiple people.

Again, there are DNA tests out on the market for $69 on up.  Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for.”  Don’t sacrifice test quality just because someone offers a test for less.  Most test pricing is based on the service level  and the knowledge of the staff that is performing the test.   Would you trust the discount heart surgeon who offers a quadruple bypass for the price of a double bypass…..

In September of 2010 the State of Colorado enacted “Katie’s Law.”  This law requires persons arrested and suspected of a felony to submit to a DNA sample.  The law was passed in an attempt to assist in solving violent and sex-assault crimes that have been pending for some time.  The law also requires that if no felony charges are filed after 1 year, then the DNA samples are to be destroyed.

In the first 4 ½ months, 15,404 DNA swabs were collected from suspected felons.  Of these, 9,212 of the samples were processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation once felony charges were filed. The samples are then entered into the state’s Combined DNA index system which stores results collected from crime scenes and victims throughout Colorado.  Of the initial samples run, 40 matches have been found and charges are now pending in these cases.

“Katie’s Law” is named after Katie Sepich, a New Mexico woman who had been raped, strangled and set on fire by a man released on bond.

There’s a lot of buzz being generated over the terms genetic genealogy and ancestry.  Several television shows and numerous websites claim to be able to tell you where your ancestors came from and how you came to live where you live today.  For many people who spend a lot of time tracing their family origins, these tests can provide valuable information and help to fill in some of the “gaps.”

The most basic of these genetic genealogy tests involve a simple cheek swab from which your genetic Haplogroup can be determined.  A haplogroup is a group of similar genetic types that share a common ancestor.  Historically, all of the great human migrations involved large groups of people who split into smaller groups and went their separate ways colonizing the world.  Everyone on the planet belongs to a haplogroup and these haplogroups have been mapped to show the migration routes over many thousands of years.

Other types of genetic genealogy tests claim to be able to tell tested individuals what percentage European, Indigenous American, Sub-Saharan African, and East Asian they are.  These tests are based on similar haplogroup typing as mentioned above and give a percentage makeup of your ancestry.

All genetic genealogy DNA tests are based on collections of data taken worldwide and as the databases grow the tests become stronger and will be able to further break down the different nationalities within the four main categories.  These tests are currently being developed.

Cornelius Dupree, in jail for 30 years for a crime he did not commit, was exonerated in a Dallas, TX courtroom on Tuesday, January 4, 2011.  Mr. Dupree was convicted in 1980 for the 1979 rape and robbery of a Dallas woman and was sentenced to up to 75 years in prison.  Mr. Dupree had wrongfully been picked out of a police lineup by that same woman, which ultimately led to his conviction.  Over the last 30 years, Mr. Dupree had at least two opportunities to be released from jail if only he would admit to being a sex offender.  Mr. Dupree maintained his innocence which unfortunately kept him in jail.  Fortunately for Mr. Dupree, the Dallas County Crime Lab had the foresight to store DNA evidence years before DNA identification technology would advance enough that the evidence collected would be able to be tested and used in court proceedings.  It took years of battling between the Dallas County court system and the Innocence Project, to get access to the samples for testing.  Once the testing was run, Mr. Dupree became the 21st Dallas County man to be exonerated using DNA evidence.  Forensic DNA testing technology has come a long way over the last few years and as a result in these advances in technolgy, the cost for testing in not very expensive when you weigh it against the freedom of a human life.  Now Mr. Dupree has his freedom.  May God bless him and his family.

This is one of the most asked questions when it comes to DNA Testing.  While that majority of the samples taken today are the “standard” buccal swabs (cheek swabs), DNA can be collected through a variety of other means such as Blood, fingernail clippings, diabetic test strips, ear swabs, hair (with roots attached), cigarette butts, chewing gum, toothbrush, soda cans, feminine hygiene products, condoms, bones, teeth,  etc.  However, using one of these “non-standard” samples usually requires a viability test whichcan result in an additional cost.  If you have a question about what kind of sample you can use to perform your DNA Test, please contact your personal case coordinator with the company you are working with or call one of our trusted Case Coordinators at DNA Services of America at (800) 927-1635.

What would you do if you had the suspicion that you were the son of one of the most infamous characters in American history? That’s the question raised by one Matthew Roberts who, after receiving a lead from his birth mother, began a quest for the answer. Roberts had been adopted as a baby and never knew his birth parents. Approximately 14 years ago, through an adoption agency, Roberts located his birth mother who proceeded to tell Roberts that Charles Manson was his father and that she had met Manson at an orgy in 1967.

Not wholly believing the story he had been told, Roberts proceeded to write to Manson. Roberts relayed the story from his mother and was surprised to get a response back from Manson confirming the story. Manson did in fact remember Robert’s mother and was at the 1967 orgy. Now with concrete proof, albeit from a madman, Roberts proceeded to his next step of obtaining a DNA Paternity Test. Twice Roberts attempted, but in both attempts the results were inconclusive as the samples were contaminated. If only there was another way….

Manson did have a known son, Charles Manson. Jr., but after changing his name to Jay White to protect his family it is believed, White committed suicide in 1993. White also had a known son, Jason Freeman, an oilfield worker and MMA fighter living in Ohio. With the help of CNN and DNA Diagnostic Center, Roberts would soon find out if Manson was his father.

Since it was known that Freeman was the paternal grandson of Manson, Freeman would carry the same Y-Chromosome as Manson as the Y-Chromosome is passed down from generation to generation only on the paternal side. If Roberts was the son of Manson, he too would share that same Y-Chromosome with Freeman. This would prove the relationship.

As Roberts lived in the Los Angeles, CA area, he was sent to DNA Services of America in Santa Ana for his DNA sample collection. Freeman was sent to a location near him in Ohio for the same. 48 hours later, CNN brought both men together to get the answer. Meeting each other for the first time Freeman and Roberts shared a hug and anxiously awaited the results. It was determined that Freeman and Roberts did not share the same Y-Chromosome, which meant that a disappointed Roberts was left ever wondering who his biological father was and not sure what to do next.

Names and reputations aside, most people want to know their past. While most would be grateful that Manson was not their father, still not knowing who your biological father is after a grinding fourteen year search is frustrating. It is that search for answers as to who we are and where we come from that most people need to know to help complete the puzzle that makes up our lives. Unfortunately, the road to those answers are not always easy and the answers not always clear.

Having a baby can be an exciting time in a couple’s life.  It can also be a time of difficulty and frustrations, especially if the mother or father is not sure of the biological relationship.  When the birth records coordinator comes to your room to sign the birth certificate  and the acknowledgement of paternity, most men do not realize what they are signing.  By signing that acknowledgement of paternity and putting your name on that birth certificate starts a countdown that if not addressed promptly could result in 18 years of support for a child who is not even related to you.  If you are one of the men out there who would still take care of that child, then we applaud you.  Most men would not want to be in this situation.

What most men do not realize is that the acknowledgement of paternity does not have to be signed prior to the child leaving the hospital.  Most states give upwards of a week after the birth to sign that document.  This leaves plenty of time to have a DNA Paternity Test performed to find out the truth and have the peace of mind that may be needed.

In a situation like this, it is not advisable to run to the drugstore and buy a non-legal DNA Paternity Test off the shelf and do it yourself.  You want the knowledge and expertise of a DNA Testing company to perform a legally admissible test so that if the results ever need to be used in court you would have everything you need to prove your case.

If you do sign the birth certificate and the Acknowledgement of Paternity, you only have a few years in some states to contest this.  Once the statute of limitations expires the alleged father could be on the hook for the entire 18 years, even if he is not the biological father.  Courts will only accept a legally admissible DNA Test.

If a man is unsure that he is the father and is being told by the mother that he is then he has a right to request a DNA Test.  It is a small price to pay for the truth and peace of mind.

Over the last couple of years, I have posted blogs relating to individuals in prison who may not be getting a fair shot at post conviction DNA Testing in order to prove their innocence.  As a firm believer in “Commit the crime–Do the time” justice, it is hard to understand that many innocent people wind up behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit due to poor police work, false confessions, faulty eyewitness testimony, witnesses who recanted their stories, and plain old incompetence.

University of Michigan Law school and Northwestern University just released a new National Registry of Exonerations, which show at least 2,000 people who have been freed from prison since 1989 mostly because of DNA evidence.  The registry covers the time since DNA  began being used in various court proceedings.  It was surprising to find out the innocence of many “convicted” murderers and rapists.

Leading the list of exhonerations is Cook County, Illinois with 78 followed by Dallas County, Texas with 36.  This shows that the problems are not localized, but are spread throughout the whole system.

According to AARP, nearly 6 million children are raised in households headed by grandparents or other relatives; 2.5 million of these children are without parents in the household at all, leaving their care and upbringing to their grandparents or other relatives.

In light of the high out-of-wedlock birth rate, grandparents often have to establish paternity through grandparentage DNA testing to:

1. Become a foster parent or gain legal guardianship or visitation rights to their grandchild.

2. Help their son or daughter with a child born out-of-wedlock to correctly complete the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.

3. Ensure that the child may benefit from the father’s social security or military child survivor allowances in situations where the father is deceased.

DNA Services of America is the only DNA testing services company that has been actively involving itself with grandparents who need DNA testing. It is the only company of its kind that is recognized by Grandparents for Children’s Rights and listed as a resource in Grand Magazine.

The needs of grandparents in today’s society and culture are often overlooked. Where parents are offered the opportunity to establish paternity through the state at either no cost or a minimal fee through the child support enforcement program, grandparents are usually not afforded this option if they must take on the role as the parent. Many times this population does not know where to turn for guidance in these situations, and it is our duty to educate them and relevant organizations in our communities that we help grandparents get answers through the grandparentage DNA testing option.