By NICHOLAS WILLIAMS
A forensic biologist testified at Brooklyn Criminal Court on Thursday that no DNA evidence was found that links a New Jersey man to the murder of a Rikers Island guard in 2016.
Michelle Hoffman, a forensic biologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was responsible in examining physical evidence of the case.
Evidence from a gold 2002 Hyundai Elantra that defendant 37-year-old Keon Richmond was allegedly driving the day of the murder was presented, but no DNA evidence was found that matches Richmond to be the driver of the vehicle.
“I was unable to identify the individual contributors, I wasn’t able to identify a major contributor,” Hoffman said. “There’s just not enough DNA to go forward.”
Four swabs of DNA on the seat buckle, gear shift, steering wheel, and car interior front seat were tested on. Hoffman explained that there were a mixture of multiple DNA samples present on the swabs, which made it difficult in identifying a major contributing DNA sample or other individual contributors.
Hoffman also performed a likelihood ratio, which is a test that tells how likely someone may be a match to the DNA evidence. Richmond, based on DNA testing of the steering wheel scored 11,500. Likelihood ratio is based on a statistical calculation, and doesn’t prove a DNA match. The higher the ratio, the stronger the evidence is in favor of the hypothesis presented.
“Anything over 1,000 provides a strong support,” Hoffman said. She concluded that Richmond was a possible DNA contributor based on the likelihood ratio.
Richmond’s attorney, Gregory Watts, objected that he did not believe Hoffman was a credible forensic biologist. Watts even questioned a possibility of a false positive in Hoffman’s likelihood ratio to which Hoffman responded, “It’s rare.”
Richmond faced possible life in prison if convicted. He reportedly placed a tracking device on his ex-girlfriend, Alastasia Bryan’s car, tracking her movements for three days before finally shooting her five times with a revolver as she sat in her vehicle outside of her home in Canarsie on December 4, 2016.
Richmond allegedly fled the scene in a gold 2002 Hyundai Elantra. The vehicle was later discovered to be registered under the name of Richmond’s current girlfriend, Shirley Mejia, who was indicted on one count each of first-and third-degree hindering prosecution. Richmond was arrested a week after the shooting and was charged with 2nd degree murder and two counts of second degree criminal possession of a weapon.