SEATTLE (AP) — A man charged in the 1987 murders of a young Canadian couple is facing trial in Washington state this week, but the case won’t challenge the new investigative technique authorities used to link him to the crime.
William Earl Talbott II is one of dozens of men authorities have arrested for old, unsolved crimes in the past year using genetic genealogy. The practice involves identifying suspects by entering crime-scene DNA profiles into public databases that people have used for years to fill out their family trees. In 2018, investigators in California used this technique to arrest and charge a man with being the sadistic attacker known as the Golden State killer who killed 13 people and raped nearly 50 women during the 1970s and 1980s.
Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, but Talbott’s attorneys say how detectives found him is irrelevant. They argue that the discovery of Talbott’s DNA doesn’t make him a murderer.