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A Massachusetts judge denied defense attorneys' request on Tuesday to throw out DNA evidence collected from the man charged with the murder of a 27-year-old Google employee out for jog in the Worcester area in 2016.
Vanessa Marcotte never returned from her run.
Her partially clothed and burned body was found in the woods about a mile away from her mother’s home in Princeton, Massachusetts — 15 miles north of Worcester — several hours after her family reported her missing on Aug. 7, 2016. Police said she was sexually assaulted.
Marcotte lived and worked in New York but was visiting her mother when she was murdered.
Attorneys for Angelo Colon-Ortiz wanted the evidence suppressed because police did not have a search warrant and utilized a flawed translation process.
The Spanish-language consent form signed by Colon-Ortiz was explained by a Massachusetts State trooper Thiago Miranda who speaks conversational Spanish but is not fluent in the language and was not a trained translator. They said the DNA waiver was “improperly and inadequately translated into Spanish.”
Colon-Ortiz was born and raised in Puerto Rico and does not speak English.
Police visited his home in March 2017. Miranda used Colon-Ortiz’s girlfriend to help explain the contents of the consent form — which was written in Spanish — and the process for collecting a DNA swab.
Prosecutors said the sample collected from Colon-Ortiz matched DNA underneath Marcotte’s fingernails, according to the Telegram & Gazette newspaper. He was indicted by a grand jury in June 2017.
Colon-Ortiz has pleaded not guilty.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker wrote that the consent form “appears to be a product of carelessness” in her 18-page ruling, which was obtained by the Telegram & Gazette.
“There is no excuse for the litany of errors the experts highlighted in the document. Although the first sentence was clear and coherent, the remaining sentences were not, and they provided valuable information that an individual should be able to consider, and properly factor into a decision with an equal level of understanding. However, there is no evidence in this record that Colon-Ortiz did not understand the form,” Kenton-Walker wrote.
She added: “And despite the above concerns, the information Colon-Ortiz needed to know was that police were asking him to consent to providing a sample of DNA for the investigation of the death of Ms. Marcotte.”
Eduardo Masferrer, one of Colon-Ortiz’s attorneys, told the Associated Press that he was “disappointed” by the ruling and may appeal.
He said Colon-Ortiz had little understanding of the trooper’s translation.
"The court clearly indicated that the form raised 'serious concerns' and is the product of carelessness," and contained "a litany of errors," Masferrer said in a statement, according to AP.
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