AP NEWS

DNA Evidence an Issue in Marcotte Case

December 27, 2018

Staff report

WORCESTER -- Citing language barrier issues, the attorney for the former Worcester deliveryman charged in a 2016 killing of Leominster native Vanessa Marcotte in Princeton while jogging is asking a judge to throw out DNA evidence from the case.

The Associated Press reported that Edward Ryan Jr., who is representing murder suspect Angelo Colon-Ortiz, has filed a motion alleging his client’s DNA was collected in violation of his constitutional rights. Colon-Ortiz, a native Spanish speaker, doesn’t understand English and could not understand a police interpreter, meaning he could not voluntarily give a DNA sample after he was stopped in Worcester during a traffic stop, according to the AP.

Colon-Ortiz pleaded not guilty in the August 2016 death of Marcotte, a 27-year-old Google employee during his arraignment in District Court and when arraigned in Superior Court after being indicted.

During Colon-Ortiz’s District Court arraignment in April 2017, Ryan voiced doubts about a state trooper involved with the investigation stopping the suspect in Worcester as a random event.

“I just think either it’s an incredible stoke of luck that a detective involved with the investigation just happened to be the guy to see the van as opposed to a police officer...I mean, a black SUV driven by a Hispanic guy in Worcester,” said Ryan on the courthouse steps in Leominster after the 2017 arraignment.

Marcotte had come from New York City to visit her mother in Princeton and was killed while jogging alone through her mother’s neighborhood. She was found in a wooded area near 68 Brooks Station Road about seven hours after being reported missing by her mother.

When found, she had suffered a trauma to the head, and her hands and feet were burned, in what the state alleged was an attempt to destroy DNA evidence. Marcotte, according to investigators, also had a broken nose and “crushing injuries to the structures surrounding her throat.”

Investigators would announce Colon-Ortiz’s arrest the following April, with Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. telling reporters that his office believed Colon-Ortiz to be Marcotte’s killer. The arrest came after Colon-Ortiz’s DNA matched a DNA profile that was constructed from samples found under Marcotte’s fingernails.

Initially only charged with aggravated assault and battery and assault with intent to rape, Colon-Ortiz was then indicted on a murder charge in June 2017 and has remained in custody without bail after pleading not guilty.

The DNA evidence collected from Marcotte’s body had led investigators to look for a male suspect of Hispanic or Latino descent in his 30s with light or medium skin color, an athletic build, and short hair.

The following month, a state trooper saw Colon-Ortiz driving a dark SUV, which matched a description of the suspect’s vehicle, through Worcester. That trooper was then able to locate Colon-Ortiz and obtain a DNA sample from him.

Prosecutors have yet to file a response to Ryan’s motion.

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