A fake DNA report created by Utica, N.Y., police investigators to pressure a suspect into confessing has raised questions about whether some investigative tactics go too far, says the Utica Observer-Dispatch. A week before Leon “Zeus” Wright’s attempted murder trial was to begin this year, Oneida County prosecutors discovered a state police lab report indicating his DNA was found on the bed of a woman stabbed 19 times in 2005. Prosecutors hadn’t been told about the DNA and became suspicious about the document. Police legally are allowed to lie to suspects in order to solve a crime, but such efforts may come close to crossing an ethical line.
The Utica police chief said he would not fabricate reports in the future. Investigators showed portions of the phony report to Wright in jail in hopes to spur a confession, to which Wright instead replied, “If you have my DNA, then you don’t need me to talk.” Wright never confessed but he pleaded guilty to burglary one day after his trial began and he has since been sentenced to 17 years in prison.