Weld DA declines to file charges against DNA analyst

Published on June 13, 2024

Weld DA Seal

GREELEY, Colo. (Weld County D.A.) – The Weld County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed the investigation concerning Chiara Wuensch, a DNA analyst who worked for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at the Northern Colorado Regional Forensic Lab, and has declined to file charges.

The Weld County DA’s Office has determined there is not probable cause to believe Ms. Wuensch committed a crime.

In order to prove a criminal charge, the prosecution must not only prove the commission of the criminal act, but also the defendant's criminal intent. Proof of the act alone is insufficient; the required mental state must also be established beyond a reasonable doubt.

A review of Ms. Wuensch’s work revealed only five anomalies among thousands of DNA data entries, falling into three categories:

  1. Alleged deletion of data indicating a small amount of male DNA
  2. Alleged addition of the word “undetermined” to a cell in a spreadsheet
  3. Alleged alteration of values related to potential contamination to a smaller number

These anomalies could be seen as intentional acts to avoid additional work required by CBI’s standard operating procedures. However, during an interview on May 23, 2024, Ms. Wuensch denied intentionally altering or deleting the data, attributing any discrepancies to potential mistakes in using Excel.

Ms. Wuensch explained that there was no reason for her to intentionally change the data, as she still performed DNA amplification required by those standard operating procedures.. This was also corroborated by Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI), and it was confirmed that these anomalies did not impact any DNA identification or elimination in criminal cases.

“After a comprehensive review of all the evidence and circumstances, it is clear that the anomalies found in Ms. Wuensch’s work do not meet the legal threshold for criminal charges,” Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said. “The evidence does not support a finding of criminal intent, and therefore, it would be inappropriate to pursue charges in this matter.”

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