Saia twins' DNA complicates home invasion trial
Forensic lab could not distinguish if DNA evidence was linked to Brandon or Bradley
The trial of two men charged in connection with a fatal home invasion in Saint John has been complicated by the fact the accused are identical twin brothers with the same DNA, according to their defence lawyers.
Brandon and Bradley Saia, 22, are accused of breaking into a home on the city’s west side last November, while wearing masks and carrying weapons.
Two men ended up stabbed that night and one of them died of his injuries.
DNA evidence was found inside gloves that were allegedly used by the Saia brothers during the robbery.
But a forensic laboratory could not distinguish between their DNA, defence lawyers said during closing arguments on Tuesday.
The results were ambiguous when it came to saying which brother wore the gloves, the jury was told.
That has become an issue for the Crown making its case, the lawyers said.
In addition, Brandon's lawyer Allan Doyle argued his client wasn't even in the home at all when it was robbed.
There was no direct evidence that put Brandon in the home, he said.
Meanwhile, Bradley's lawyer Peter Corey questioned the credibility of key witnesses, including Amber Wilson, the girlfriend in the burglarized home, who claims she recognized Bradley's voice because of his lisp.
Corey said that came as a surprise because Wilson had never mentioned that in previous sworn statements to police.
"Five times she denied that the Saias were there," he said.
Corey said the DNA evidence was red herring evidence.
Allegedly overheard planning robbery
Crown prosecutor Jill Knee, however, contends the DNA collected and processed scientifically supports the testimony of the more than 25 witnesses, including police officers.
She said the Crown has shown five men, including the Saia brothers, set out to rob Christopher Reid on Nov. 3.
They were allegedly overheard planning the robbery when they stopped beforehand at the apartment of Melissa Perry, whose boyfriend ended up fatally stabbed that night.
Reid, who was also stabbed in the home, admitted to the court he had been dealing drugs for several months after losing his construction job.
He said he handed over a bag of cocaine worth about $40 and a bag of marijuana worth about $25. His TV and gaming system were also stolen.
Knee said it would be understandable if the jurors had feelings about Reid, based on what they had heard.
"Regardless of whether he sold drugs, he did not deserve to have his home invaded or be stabbed," she said.
Everyone is entitled to protection under the law, stressed Knee.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Wednesday, after Justice Judy Clendening gives her instructions.
A 17-year-old youth and Ronald McCutcheon, 21, have both pleaded guilty to charges connected to the incident and await sentencing.