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Man Gets 26 1/2 years in Dog DNA Case

December 9, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ A man convicted of murder in a trial that used dog DNA as crucial evidence has been sentenced to 26 1/2 years in prison.

George Tuilefano, 24, showed no emotion Tuesday as he was sentenced on two first-degree murder counts for the shooting deaths of Raquel Rivera, 20, and Jay Johnson, 22. The pair were slain along with their 1-year-old pit bull-Labrador mix Dec. 9, 1996.

In what was believed to be the first case in the nation in which DNA from an animal was presented as evidence, prosecutors contended that the dog’s blood was found on a jacket belonging to a co-defendant, John Leuluaialii.

Leuluaialii, 24, was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and a count of animal cruelty. He was sentenced in October to life in prison without possibility of release.

Prosecutors said Tuilefano and Leuluaialii burst into the victims’ home demanding cash and drugs. Rivera and Johnson were shot multiple times and died at the scene. Their dog died about 30 hours later.

Defense lawyers have said they would appeal, partly on the basis of a judge’s refusal to hold a hearing on the validity of the dog DNA tests before allowing them to be introduced as evidence.

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