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Cold homicide solved after more than a decade

Even those who figure after a period of time that they have gotten away with murder can get a big, unwelcome surprise in the end.

Case-in-point: Recently investigators have arrested a Baton Rouge woman in the 2000 stabbing death of her business partner at that woman's home. DNA testing finally linked the suspect to the killing, and she has now been formally charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of her 35-year-old associate.

Although the victim's father is glad for the closure the arrest brings to the tragedy, he says he is still mystified by the motive -- as he considered the two women the closest of friends. They graduated Capitol High School together, attended the same church and jointly ran S&M Outreach Inc., a social service agency. He noted that if he ever gets a chance to confront the defendant, he would have to ask the one simple question: Why?

Police, when first confronting the scene in 2000, surmised that the murdered woman may have known her attacker. There were no signs of a breaking-in. In addition to finding defensive wounds on the slain woman's body, there was DNA at the scene that did not match hers. It was that DNA that ultimately proved the defendant's undoing.

Cold-case detectives had the DNA sample sent to the State Police crime lab for testing and all these years later were able to snare a search warrant to take a sample of the defendant's DNA. A couple of paragraphs in the body of the affidavit in support of the search warrant revealed certain facts about scratch marks on the defendant's neck that were noticed shortly after the stabbing. Investigators only recently found a witness who disputed the accused's explanation of how she received the injuries, notes the affidavit.

In a further aggravating factor, the defendant is also accused of stabbing her slain partner's daughter, who was 2 weeks old at that time. The injuries were minor.

The bottom line is that there is no statute of limitations on murder and most cases are left open until solved - no matter how long. In this case, the defendant's attorney will undoubtedly try and mitigate the importance of the DNA evidence. Perhaps the critical evidence got to the scene during one of many innocent visits to her partner's house.

The Advocate, "Arrest made in 2000 killing of Baton Rouge woman" Jim Mustian, Jul. 06, 2013

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