Greenpoint, Brooklyn, looking toward midtown Manhattan, after Hurricane Sandy. The blood evidence in ‘People v. Austin’ was stored in an NYPD warehouse in Greenpoint. (Adam Lerner)
New York’s highest court has taken up the case of a man convicted of burglary based largely on forensic blood evidence destroyed by floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy.
Peter Austin was convicted in 2013 of two break-ins in the Bronx after his DNA was linked to blood found at the crime scene. Prosecutors were able to introduce the record of the blood-test results although the physical blood evidence had been destroyed in floodwaters.
Austin argues that jurors should have been told they could discount the test results because the physical evidence was destroyed.
Lower courts disagreed, ruling that the evidence wasn’t destroyed intentionally and that authorities couldn’t be faulted for an event outside of their control.
The Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday. A decision is expected this fall.