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Attorney says DNA sought from Yale suspect fiancee

An attorney for the fiancee of a Yale University lab technician charged with killing a graduate student said Wednesday he's been told authorities are seeking a sample of her DNA.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An attorney for the fiancee of a Yale University lab technician charged with killing a graduate student said Wednesday he's been told authorities are seeking a sample of her DNA.

Robert Berke, attorney for Jennifer Hramadka, told The Associated Press that it's unclear why authorities want her DNA. He says he was told in September after Annie Le was killed that she is not a suspect.

"I've been advised that they're seeking a sample of her DNA," Berke said.

Hramadka's boyfriend, Raymond Clark III, is charged with killing the 24-year-old Le five days before Le's planned wedding in September.

Berke said investigators wanted to interview Hramadka shortly after the crime, but the interview did not take place. He declined to comment on his reaction to the move.

A prosecutor and police declined to comment.

Clark and Hramadka were seen leaving a coffee shop in a car in which "blood-like stains" were found hours after Le was killed, according to search warrant affidavits unsealed Wednesday.

New Haven police said in September that they didn't expect to make more arrests in Le's killing.

Le's body was found stuffed behind a research lab wall in September on the day she was supposed to get married on Long Island. Autopsy results show Le was strangled, but the motive remains unclear.

Experts said investigators may seek someone's DNA to exclude him or her as a source of the DNA that was collected as evidence.

"It sounds like they have some DNA they don't know who it belongs to," said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, director of toxicology at the University of Florida. "They're trying to rule her in or rule her out as a contributor to that DNA."

Dr. John Howard, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, cautioned against drawing conclusions about the move. He said investigators might want to address any claims or anticipated claims by the defense, such as that blood found was the suspect's fiancee's from a nosebleed.

Two days before Clark was arrested, investigators said they found blood "in plain view" on the kitchen floor near the entrance to his apartment, according to the search warrants. The warrants do not indicate the source of the blood found in Clark's apartment.

Authorities took plastic door panels and carpeting with "blood-like stains" from the Taurus in which Clark was riding in the hours after Le's disappearance.

Clark sent e-mails to Le "in the recent past," the affidavits said. Her e-mail address was found in a laboratory locker labeled "Ray," the documents said.

Clark has not yet entered a plea. His public defender, Joe Lopez, has said he intends to plead not guilty.

The affidavits show that police searched for evidence in Clark's home, two cars that he used and numerous lockers in the laboratory building where Le's body was found. They show investigators also sought samples of Clark's body hair, including pubic hair.

Quinnipiac University law professor Jeffrey Meyer, a former federal prosecutor, said hair samples could help establish a link to hair found on the victim's body.

"It could go to suggest there was a sexual assault of some kind," Meyer said. "At this point, prosecutors don't want to rule anything out or leave any stone unturned."

The suspect, the affidavits said, "has gone to great lengths to conceal evidence in multiple locations in unusual places."

Investigators found a white rag, tweezers, scissors, a screwdriver and several plastic tubes in a clogged drain pipe in the building where Le's body was found, the affidavits said.

Portions of the affidavits released Wednesday were blacked out.

Police had previously revealed that they discovered other items linking Clark to Le's death, including a green-ink pen under Le's body with her blood and Clark's DNA. Police have said Clark signed into the secure building with a green pen on Sept. 8, the day Le disappeared.

They had also said DNA from Le and Clark was on a bloody sock found hidden in a ceiling. Elsewhere in the building, they found a pair of work boots labeled "Ray-C" that had blood-like stains on them, and a hospital scrub shirt with blood-like stains that was similar to the shirt Clark wore that day, police had previously said.

In arrest warrant affidavits released last month, Clark told investigators that he never socialized with Le or had contact with her outside of work. He told investigators that he knew Le for about four months, according to court papers.

Clark told police that Le left the building 15 minutes before him, carrying her notebook and two bags of mouse food. An extensive search of the crime scene failed to locate Le's notebook or her shoes.

Court papers previously released describe a bloody crime scene and Clark's efforts to scrub floors.

Investigators say Clark tried to hide a box of Wipe-Alls that later was found to have traces of Le's blood.

Investigators uncovered "a possible medium velocity blood-like spray pattern" on the wall that tested positive for blood and showed apparent efforts to clean the blood off the wall.

The blood at the scene suggests there was a struggle, experts said, noting the scratches on Clark's body and the surgical gloves Le was wearing that left her thumb exposed.