Prosecutors in Tennessee have announced that a man has been charged in connection with the 1991 murder of a pregnant woman in Spring Hill. The 59-year-old Iowa resident is also a suspect in two open homicide cases in Wyoming. He was taken into custody without incident at his home according to media reports. He faces two counts of murder in the first degree for the death of the woman and her unborn child. Prosecutors in Wyoming plan to charge the man as soon as the Tennessee case is resolved.
The woman’s body was found beside the Saturn Parkway near Port Royal Road. Police determined that she had been murdered after noticing her torn clothing and injuries on her neck and face. The cause of death was later determined to be strangulation. Witness interviews led police to believe that the woman had been traveling with a tractor-trailer driver shortly before she was killed.
The breakthrough in the case came when detectives sent DNA samples collected in 1991 to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Laboratory. TBI technicians used these samples to develop a DNA profile, which was then submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System. This system then matched the profile to two 1992 homicides. Charges were filed after DNA collected from the man matched samples gathered at all three crime scenes.
Juries tend to be swayed by forensic evidence in cases involving violent crimes, which is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may study lab reports closely to ensure that strict testing procedures were followed and samples were handled properly. If mistakes were made or shortcuts were taken, attorneys may seek to have forensic evidence excluded. When the results of scientific tests are subject to more than one interpretation, attorneys might call on forensic experts to provide juries with alternative explanations.