Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are under enormous pressure to solve murder cases. When the case is one that has gone cold over years or even decades, the stakes can be even higher.
Such is true also for the defendants in these cold cases, as they face unique hurdles for mounting a staunch defense to the charges they face many years after they allegedly took part in the crime.
DNA discoveries have been a game-changer
When a murder occurred 40 years ago, the evidence collected could not be examined for traces of the perpetrator’s DNA because those technologies did not yet exist. Now, however, they do exist and even decades-old evidence can be screened and assessed for links to living defendants and/or their relatives.
DNA can degrade over time and is still subject to the same contamination factors that can intentionally or inadvertently alter an evidence sample. Even what, on the basis of DNA alone, appears to be a slam-dunk case can actually be an example of an innocent defendant being railroaded to prison if the justice train has jumped its tracks.
Witnesses lie, die and forget
The older a case gets, the more fallible the memories of those witnesses who still remain to give sworn testimonies. Meanwhile, witnesses whose testimony could exonerate or alibi a defendant accused of murder may have since died themselves, leaving only a parade of prosecution witnesses. Then, too, if these witnesses are related to or otherwise linked to the murder victim, their motivation to lie to achieve closure to the case could also be a major factor in an innocent defendant’s conviction.
Seek defense counsel immediately
If you are accused of a serious crime like murder, you have no time to waste. Admit nothing and answer no police questioning without having your attorney present at all times.