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DNA evidence helps solve old burglary in Palmdale

April 6, 2012 |  1:37 pm

2012-04-05 13 01 49
DNA evidence has helped detectives in Palmdale solve an old burglary case allowing them to return most of the victim’s belongings, authorities said Friday.

According to a report by Sgt. Andrew Nagel of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Palmdale Station, on Dec. 5, 2010, deputies stopped 28-year-old Justin Benner after they saw him “acting suspiciously.”

“They saw his pants were covered in blood and he had a strong odor of marijuana on his clothing,” Nagel wrote in the report. While assessing whether Benner needed medical assistance, deputies found several items of woman's jewelry and uncirculated coins in Benner's possession, Nagel said.

Benner told deputies he had broken up with his girlfriend and took the items as part of their separation, Nagel said. Deputies were unable to verify Benner's story and they suspected that he had stolen the items, so they arrested him, Nagel said. A DNA sample was taken from Benner in accordance with California state law.

Investigators were unable to prove Benner was lying and no victims reported losing the jewelry and coins, so Benner was released and the items returned to him, Nagel said.

Meanwhile, during the investigation of a residential burglary in the 40800 Block of 30th Street West in Palmdale after Benner’s release, detectives discovered dried blood on a broken window at the home, Nagel said. They submitted a sample of blood for DNA analysis and just last week the crime lab was able to match Benner's DNA with the sample, Nagel said.

Authorities arrested Benner, who subsequently confessed to the burglary, Nagel said.

“Mr. Benner blamed drugs as the reason for his crime spree and said he could not remember where he had stolen the jewelry and coins from,” Nagel said. 

To detectives' surprise, Benner still had the stolen items, which were positively identified by the victim and returned on Thursday. Authorities did not identify the victim.

Benner is scheduled to be arraigned at the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse on Monday. 


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Photo: Stolen jewelry that authorities said was recovered and returned to its rightful owner. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department