DNA leads to arrest in Orange County double homicide
12:23 a.m. December 20, 2005
SANTA ANA – A year-old double homicide was solved by matching DNA evidence left at the crime scene with samples in a state database that contains genetic material from convicted felons, authorities said.
Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said the case was the first double homicide in California to be solved with the database.
Nicholas Casas, 83, and his wife, Emilia Casas, 73, were found dead last December of multiple stab wounds at their home in Santa Ana. Family members had offered $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas identified the suspect late Monday as Carlos Martinez, 30. They said in a printed statement that DNA was found on a soda can left at the crime scene.
Martinez was jailed earlier this year after being convicted of possession of burglary tools, officials said.
"The suspect's DNA was originally collected while he was in the Orange County Jail on April 2005," Carona said. "He qualified for a sampling of his DNA because of a prior felony conviction. He had a five-page rap sheet."
Martinez, who was deported to Mexico after the burglary tools conviction, was arrested Friday at his mother's Santa Ana home after detectives staked out the location, believing he would make a Christmastime visit there. He was expected to be arraigned Tuesday on murder charges, authorities said.
The DNA database was authorized by voters in 2004 under Proposition 69, which requires those convicted of a felony to give a DNA sample to law enforcement officials.
A spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer didn't immediately return a call to confirm Amormino's statement about the significance of the case.
Rackauckas called DNA collection and analysis "the greatest breakthrough in criminal investigations since the two-way radio."
"In 1997, one case was solved through this kind of DNA hit, and then it was two in 1998, and then it was four, eight, 10, and I think this year we're hitting over 50," Rackauckas said.
Emma Lozano, a daughter of the victims, said she was thankful that the prayers of friends and family members had been met with the arrest.
"This is a gift from our parents for the holidays because they knew it was going to be unbearable this Christmas," Lozano said. "And I really feel that they wanted it solved before the end of the year to help us through."
Didn't they try to pass something similar that would do the same thing, but only for felony arrests?