October 19, 2021

DNA is not an infallible test – everything depends on the researcher

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From Covert Intelligence LLC

SAN JUAN, PR – January 2018 – Since the DNA was established as possible evidence in criminal cases in 1987, many scientific advances have developed and polished identification techniques thanks to this resource, making it more reliable and forceful as evidence in a court . However, these same advances allow us to establish parameters for the proper and indicated use of these evidences, from their collection at the scene of a crime to their analysis and consequent use as a tool to identify a possible criminal. A good researcher is aware of these advances and knows how to take advantage of them. This is the case of my friend and colleague, Brian McGuiness, who saved an innocent from falling behind bars thanks to his insight and quick thinking when evaluating the evidence presented by the prosecution.

The murder of portfolio designer Harl Taylor in 2007 in the Bahamas was a case of international significance. From the beginning the case was plagued by errors and nebulous actions by the police of the Bahamas. The order of the events that led to the discovery of Taylor’s body was never clear, and at least one law and order officer, who was out of service hours, was involved. After several irregularities, including the storage of evidence in a section of the police for days after the crime without any explanation, the prosecution used evidence of DNA collected at the scene of the crime thanks to the abundant bloodstains that were found there. They originally tried to blame Taylor’s business partner, Troy McNeill, but the DNA evidence did not point him to him. However, nine months later, the prosecution took a DNA sample from McNeill’s son, Troyniko, and found traces of it in the stored evidence of Taylor’s case.

Mr. McNeill Sr., in his desperation to save his son from jail, sought out my colleague McGuiness less than a week before the trial against him began. Although he had already hired the services of an expert criminal lawyer from The Bahamas, a Miami contact recommended him to speak with McGuiness and that is why he called him. McGuiness, in his assessment of the case, discovered that the prosecution was basing the case on the DNA test alone. Curiously, the defense had not hired any DNA expert to consult the case. In addition, the murder happened on the second floor of the designer’s residence, which was stabbed repeatedly with a pattern of extreme violence. This did not agree with the physical reality of the accused, who at the time of the crime was severely injured in one leg by a basketball accident and was using crutches. No witness could identify him as present at the crime scene, and he had no criminal record or extreme anger issues.

Convinced of Troyniko’s innocence, McGuiness undertook the task of getting a DNA expert in less than three days to use as a witness in the case. On the other hand, he investigated the expert used by the defense. He discovered that the defense expert, who resided and practiced his profession in the United States, appeared in a US court testifying that he had made several errors in his DNA analysis in a case of the state of Florida, just a few months before. As a coup de grace, McGuiness located a biology expert who was a professor of the prosecution expert. Although this professor did not have time to inspect the specific evidence of Taylor’s case, he was able to testify as a DNA expert, explaining to the jury how DNA evidence should be collected and manipulated to be reliable.

Days later my friend McGuiness attended the trial as an observer, and could be a participant in the verdict, where in just over three hours the jury declared his client not guilty.

For me this is a great example of how DNA evidence is not necessarily the determining factor in a case. The duty of a good researcher is to analyze all the angles of that evidence, as it would be with any other – to evaluate how it was obtained, what was the chain of custody of that evidence, who analyzed it, what are the variables that can be applied to the case … In short, it is to find the fifth for the cat, find it, and use it for the benefit of the client.


Fernando Fernández, PI, BAI, CCDI, CDRS, CII, CAS, CHS-II

President – Covert Intelligence, LLC

Fernando Fernández has been working in private research in the Caribbean for more than 10 years with his company Covert Intelligence, LLC. In addition to being an expert in forensic computer science and technology research, he specializes in body language and micro / macro expressions, and criminal investigations.

IMAGE (supplied)

NOTE: This article was submitted to us in Spanish and has been translated into English. Errors in translation may have occurred.


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