Janesville34.5°

Authorities try to build murder case that doesn't rely on DNA evidence

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Mike DuPre'
January 26, 2007

Rock County sheriff's investigators are trying to build a case against James C. Koepp, suspect in a triple homicide, that will convict him even if no DNA evidence is found, Sheriff Bob Spoden said Thursday.


The department still is awaiting results of State Crime Laboratory analysis of evidence taken from Koepp and the scene of the triple homicide discovered in a mobile home park just south of Janesville on Jan. 12, Spoden said.


But Spoden added that he told his detectives to build as tight a case as possible, just as they did before DNA became the magic bullet in criminal cases.


Danyetta Lentz and her teenage children, Scott and Nicole, were found slain, apparently stabbed, in their mobile home in Janesville Terrace, 3315 S. Highway 51.


Koepp, a neighbor of the Lentzes and a convicted sex offender with a violent past, was arrested on suspicion of the murders, but Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary is awaiting more evidence before filing formal charges of first-degree intentional homicide.


The Janesville Gazette was unable to reach O'Leary for comment Thursday.


Koepp, who remains in custody at the Rock County Jail on traffic charges, is the only suspect, Spoden said.


Before DNA analysis, criminal convictions were based on witness interviews, suspects' statements, circumstantial evidence, motive and physical evidence, Spoden noted.


"I told them to build a case the way we did before DNA," the sheriff said.


The amount of evidence the sheriff's department sent to the crime lab probably accounts for some of the delay, he said.


"We sent them a lot. We sent them more yesterday, and we still have a lot," Spoden said.


The sheriff's department had to create more evidence storage, which must be in a secured area, because of the volume of items taken from the Lentz home and trailer park, he added.


Crime lab analysts examine first the evidence they think has the most potential to produce DNA results, Spoden explained.


As of Thursday morning, the lab had not released any results, he said.



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