Filled by Gretchen S. Sween on September 9th, 2022
Charles Don Flores is currently confined on Texas’s death row pursuant to the judgment of the 195th District Court, Dallas County, Texas, entered in 1999. By and through counsel, Flores files this Motion for Access to Evidence to Conduct DNA Testing pursuant to Chapter 64 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Flores’s counsel have previously conferred with counsel for the State, represented in this case by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office (“DA’s Office”), about seeking the DNA testing described below. The State has not yet clarified whether it opposes the relief requested in this motion. In support of this motion, Flores respectfully shows the following:
Flores seeks a court order allowing access to physical evidence within the State’s control and currently being held by either (1) the Dallas County crime lab aka the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (“SWIFS”) or (2) the Farmers Branch Police Department, which conducted the original investigation of the 1998 crime for which Flores has been confined on death row since 1999.
The physical evidence in question is a piece of chewing gum found at the crime scene near the slain body of the human victim’s dog. It is undisputed that an unknown male DNA profile was obtained from the gum as a result of testing the State pursued in 1999. The State represents that the gum still exists and is susceptible to further testing.
Flores is asking that either the gum extract obtained during previous testing or part of the gum itself be sent to a reputable laboratory, to be designated by his expert, Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick of “Identifinders International.” Identifinders International is a forensic genetic genealogy consulting firm that has successfully identified both murder victims and perpetrators using DNA profiles and contemporary analytical methods. Dr. Fitzpatrick is a scientist and the founder of the new field of “Forensic Genealogy.” She was the first individual to use genetic genealogy to generate investigative leads by combining DNA analysis with genealogy, a forensic technique Dr. Fitzgerald pioneered utilizing continuously expanding databases to help solve cold cases. She solved the first cold case using this methodology in 2015. In 2018, it was used to identify the “Golden State serial killer” after decades of failure. Dr. Fitzpatrick is the co-founder of the “DNA Doe Project,” which identifies previously unidentified bodies, and currently runs Identifinders International. See Exhibit 2.
Upon obtaining access, Dr. Fitzpatrick will direct that an SNP DNA profile be derived from the gum using contemporary extraction techniques, which will then be subjected to a new analytical methodology, forensic genetic genealogy, to determine whether the single source of male DNA on the gum can be identified.
Flores’s counsel with the Innocence Project of Texas has offered to bear the costs associated with the testing and analysis requested. Flores merely seeks a court order that will permit access to the gum to enable testing to adduce highly relevant information that is likely exculpatory.
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