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Attorney General Bill Lockyer Announces Record Number of "Cold Hits" Made by State DNA Lab

Tuesday, February 6, 2001
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley made five "cold hits" last week that identified different suspects for five unrelated crimes, and that so far, one of the suspects has been located and will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.

"The use of DNA technology to identify suspects and solve crimes is revolutionizing public safety in California and throughout the country," Lockyer said. "By ramping up our DNA Databank and aggressively pursuing unsolved crimes, we are telling repeat criminals that they have now run out of options. If you do the crime, we will identify you and you will do the time."

Christopher Walter Cardwell, 40, currently incarcerated in Texas, will be charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with the February, 2000, robbery and rape of a Los Angeles woman. Cardwell was identified when evidence from the crime yielded a match to Cardwell's DNA profile stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon Databank. Cardwell was not a known suspect for the crimes until the DNA database match produced a "cold hit" on January 29, 2001.

California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the state DOJ Convicted Felon DNA Databank in Berkeley. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to DNA profiles in the databank.

Cardwell's DNA profile is in the databank as the result of numerous California felony convictions, including rape, forced oral copulation, and robbery, and he is currently incarcerated in Texas awaiting trial for similar crimes. The February, 2000 rape/robbery case was investigated jointly by the Los Angeles Police Department and the local DOJ California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sexual Predator Apprehension Team.

Four other matches, or "cold hits" were made by the state's DNA Lab on January 29 when 21,000 newly developed DNA profiles of convicted felons were compared for the first time to DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence from unsolved cases.

Local law enforcement agencies have been notified about the identified suspects and are proceeding appropriately with that information. Details will be made available as the suspects are arrested and/or charged with those crimes.

Upon taking office in 1999, Attorney General Lockyer pledged to eliminate the backlog of over 100,000 unanalyzed convicted felon blood samples. The lab is now on pace to have eliminated this backlog and add an estimated 100,000 new samples by July 1, 2001, when all of the projected samples from qualifying convicted felons will be analyzed, profiled, and searchable against DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.

The improvements in the state's DNA Databank have been strongly supported by Governor Gray Davis and the state legislature in the last two state budgets.

"I see these recent hits as an indication of the potential of this program once it gets fully under way," said Frank Grimes, executive director of the Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning. "I am confident that this program will bring closure to thousands of sexual assault victims who believed that their assailant would never be caught. Finally, they will see justice served."

With these five "cold hits," a total to 29 suspects have been identified since the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank was established in 1994 – with 22 "cold hits" occurring in the last 13 months.

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