DNA warrant key in Carson City judge case
The man accused of threatening a Carson City judge pleaded not guilty in court and is set to stand trial next year.
John Aston is charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied residence, aggravated stalking and arson in the fourth degree for several incidents of harassment against Carson City Judge John Tatro over three years.
Aston pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday to all three charges and waived his right to a speedy trial.
“We are happy with the way the preliminary hearing turned out and we look forward to presenting in trial in front of a jury,” said District Attorney Jason Woodbury.
The preliminary hearing was held from Sept. 6 through Sept. 8, where several witnesses from the Sheriff’s Office, Tatro family and Crime Scene Investigators testified to the collection of evidence and recollection of the three incidents.
Woodbury said he expects the defense to explore arguments in the search and seizure of items related to the case, but said he’s unsure still of what their strategy consists of.
He did say however, the prosecution is going to be prepared to defend a key piece of evidence — the DNA warrant that was used to help identify Aston. The DNA warrant was issued in 2016, when the identity of Aston was unknown, however they had DNA collected from one of the incidents at the Tatro residence. Later, when Aston was arrested on a weapons warrant, officials were able to match Aston’s DNA to the DNA collected for the warrant.
“This hasn’t been done before so there are some challenges and litigations with that,” Woodbury said.
The District Attorney said though they feel they are fully prepared to answer any questions that may arise about the legitimacy of the DNA warrant.
“We went through the procedures with (a trial) in mind, that we would have to legally defend what we did,” Woodbury said. “We think we are able to prove that we did all of our due diligence to find out who he was before we issued the DNA warrant.”
Their due diligence included officials regularly checking vehicles in the Reno and Carson areas that matched the description of the suspect vehicle and DNA testing on all persons of interest and their families to make sure there was no familial match to the DNA.
“Every lead that could be followed up on has been followed up on,” Woodbury said. “We made sure everything was well publicized in the media.”
The trial is set for a two weeks, starting May 30.
“We feel really strongly we have a good case,” Woodbury said.