SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — DNA transferred by a paramedic may have led to an innocent man being jailed for months in a South Bay murder case, despite being hospitalized several miles away when the crime occurred.
Charges were dropped against 26-year-old Lukis Anderson last month, after five months behind bars. Anderson was charged in the death of Monte Sereno millionaire Raveesh Kumra, after his DNA was found on the victim’s fingernails. He was facing life in prison and possibly the death penalty in the case.
While Kumra died during a home invasion robbery on the night of November 30th, Anderson had an airtight alibi.
“At least every defense attorney you ask, it doesn’t get any better than this,” Santa Clara County Public Defender Kelley Kulick told KPIX 5.
On that night, Anderson was at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose with a blood alcohol level of .40, five times the legal limit. Authorities said he was passed out, stone cold drunk.
How did Anderson’s DNA end up on Kumra’s body? Authorities said the two paramedics that picked up Anderson, who was living on the streets, were at the murder scene a short time later.
“I’m certain that they were wearing gloves. We don’t have any idea how it specifically happened. But it could be as simple as their bodies and their clothes coming into contact with Mr. Anderson and then also Mr. Kumra,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith.
Brian Hubbell with Rural Metro Ambulance told KPIX 5 they have the highest standards for cleanliness, including changing gloves and sanitizing the vehicles. When asked if the ambulances were clean, Hubbell said, “Absolutely.”
“We don’t have any definitive answers as to what may have caused the transmission of DNA going from one person to another. Once there’s a conclusive decision on how that happened, we definitely can look at preventative measures going forward,” Hubbell said.
This is likely the first documented case in the country involving a paramedic transferring DNA. The defense said this case shows science is not always a slam dunk.
“It assumes that it’s been collected right, it’s assumed that it’s been tested right. It’s assumed that it’s been analyzed right. And what we know here is, something went wrong,” Kulick said.
Three other people remain defendants in Kumra’s death.
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