Crime lab turns a little evidence into a big break

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by KYLE MOORE / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 12, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 6:46 PM

SEATTLE - Two local forensic scientists are credited with matching three separate DNA samples to accused police officer killer Christopher Monfort.

The scientists work at the Washington State Patrol Crime lab in Seattle.

DNA expert Amy Smith tested an American Flag and a burnt bottle cap left at the scene of an October 22 firebombing of several Seattle police vehicles. Smith says she was able to test just a small sample and come up with a DNA profile of a male.

Scientists are not limited to testing blood and saliva but can now find DNA on simple items.

"Perhaps a cell phone left behind. An item of clothing people wore for a while. Anything that had some prolonged contact with the body area," said Smith.

Prosecutors say another significant piece of evidence was left at the Halloween night shooting of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton. Detectives uncovered a bandana with an American Flag. DNA expert Sarah Atterbury tested the bandana and came up with a DNA profile which prosecutors say matched that of the flag at the firebombings. Atterbury says DNA can be pulled from miniscule samples.

"Say, blood. We can obtain a profile from a pindrop of blood you can barely see," said Atterbury.

Both scientists worked long hours and weekends to try and help solve this case. On November 6, authorities arrested Christopher Monfort. Prosecutors say blood taken from Monfort's clothing matched the two DNA profiles from the previous crime scenes.

Normally,  it takes 6-to-8 weeks to get DNA test results. In this case, the results were rushed. Prosecutors say the match came within 24 hours.
 

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