Claire Hough was found murdered on San Diego's Torrey Pines State Beach in August 1984, and the 14-year-old's case languished for decades. In 2012, it was reopened so DNA testing could be carried out. By the end of 2014, someone else was dead—a crime lab worker employed by the lab that had originally handled the evidence. Now his widow is suing the city of San Diego for his wrongful death. In a trial that opened Monday, attorneys for Rebecca Brown set out to make the case that the San Diego Police Department and Homicide Detective Michael Lambert went after Kevin Brown as a suspect when the most obvious conclusion was that his semen was detected amid the evidence due to cross-contamination. He hanged himself in October 2014 at age 62, some 10 months after police began investigating him. Coverage:
- The Washington Post reports that when Lambert had the evidence DNA tested, the results were weird: The blood on Hough's jeans belonged to convicted sex offender Ronald Clyde Tatro. A trace amount of Kevin Brown's sperm was detected on the vaginal swab.
- As for how it might have gotten there, Rebecca Brown's lawsuit explains that at the time of Hough's murder, male lab technicians kept their own semen samples on hand to use in quality control testing. When suspicion fell on Kevin Brown, who didn't handle the Hough evidence, he argued that his semen must have somehow been commingled with it.