Criminal Justice

DNA from stamp is used to indict John Doe suspect for threatening judge

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Prosecutors in Wisconsin have filed a felony charge against the DNA profile of an unidentified man believed to have sent a threatening letter to a judge.

The DNA was obtained from a 9-cent stamp on the threatening letter from October 2012, according to the Wisconsin State Journal and the Washington Post. The charge was filed on Oct. 8 just before expiration of the six-year statute of limitations.

The threat was made against Judge Juan Colás of Dane County after he struck down a collective bargaining law on the ground that it infringed the free speech rights of public employees who choose union membership. The Wisconsin Supreme Court later overturned the decision.

The writer of the threatening letter had written: “Justice—you sir are nothing but an obstruction to the law—you sir are expendable.” The letter included a magazine ad for Fixodent denture adhesive with the handwritten words “missing teeth?”

“Sometimes radical steps are required to repair our laws + our idiots sitting on a bench supposedly dispensing justice,” the writer said.

The letter was sent to the Medicaid fraud unit of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, where Colás had worked before he was appointed to the bench. A previous letter sent to Colás at the unit included an article about two politicians killed in Mexico. “Notice the finality that dissent brings in your country,” the letter said.

Colás was born in Colombia and came to the United States as a child.

The DNA profile on the stamp also was associated with threats to two other judges and a state senator, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. There was no match to any offender in Wisconsin’s DNA database.

Wisconsin pioneered the tactic of indicting DNA profiles or obtaining John Doe warrants based on DNA. Courts in California, New York and Ohio, as well as Wisconsin, have upheld their use, ac-cording to the Washington Post.

The tactic was initially used against John Doe rape suspects, but prosecutors began using it less often as states lifted or extended the statutes of limitations for sexual assault, the Post reported. Now, the tactic is more often used in cases of mailed death threats, kidnappings and burglaries.

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