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FBI Won’t Check DNA Profile In 20-Year-Old Murder Case

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Holly Staker

Holly Staker, 11, was brutally raped and murdered in Waukegan in 1992. (Credit: CBS)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — The FBI is not going to be checking a DNA profile in a nearly 20-year old Chicago area murder case that reopened last month.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the murder case of Holly Staker, 11, of Waukegan, was reopened last month after a judge ordered the man convicted of killing her to be freed from prison. Juan Rivera was freed partly because of DNA evidence.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

But the Chicago Tribune reports that because the DNA profiling was conducted by a California lab that is not accredited by the federal government, the FBI will not be running the profile through its computers. The FBI system contains DNA information on more than 10 million people.

The Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University criticized the FBI’s stance. One of its attorneys , Jane Raley, told the Tribune that the DNA has provided the genetic fingerprint of Staker’s killer, and all they need is his identity.

Staker was fatally stabbed and sexually assaulted while babysitting two younger children on Aug. 17, 1992. Investigators had always thought they had the killer, Juan Rivera, who had confessed after a long interrogation, but whose DNA was not a match.

Rivera was convicted three times – in 1993, 1998 and 2009 – but his conviction was overturned each and every time.

Last month, Rivera walked out of Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet after being locked up for 19 years.

Rivera’s 2009 conviction was “unjustified and cannot stand” because of a lack of evidence tying him to Staker’s rape and murder, the 2nd District Appellate Court panel said in its 3-0 ruling in December.

Lake County prosecutors decided not to challenge the decision, and the Center on Wrongful Convictions volunteered to help find the real killer.

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