Police in Minnesota have charged a man with the 2015 murder of a popular artist. The defendant was only 14 years of age when he allegedly committed the crime. A Hennepin County judge ruled on Nov. 20 that he will be tried as an adult. Detectives have not been able to identify a motive for the crime, but they have discovered that the man was living next door to the victim when she was killed.
The investigation into the artist’s murder was an open cold case when the man was linked to the crime after being taken into custody on an unrelated felony charge. The man’s fingerprints and DNA allegedly match forensic samples collected at the Twin Cities crime scene.
The 68-year-old victim’s body was found when police forced open the door of her Dupont Avenue home. A medical examiner determined that she had been strangled, beaten and stabbed multiple times. The case attracted a significant amount of media attention because the victim was a popular figure in both her North Minneapolis neighborhood and the Minnesota art community. Police believe the man entered her home by forcing open a back window.
When prosecutors rely on forensic evidence, experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise individuals charged with committing violent crimes like homicide or attempted homicide to remember that criminal charges must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. This may be difficult for prosecutors when DNA and fingerprint evidence is not supported by eyewitness testimony that places a suspect at a crime scene at a particular time. While forensic scientists can link fingerprints or genetic material to a specific individual, they cannot establish when that individual may have been at the location where the evidence was found.