Judge authorizes DNA tests

District Judge Michael Gibbons authorized the expenditure of $5,000 in county funds for additional DNA testing of items associated with a suspect in an armed robbery of a Minden bank branch.

Lawyer Terri Roeser asked for the tests on behalf of her client, Steven John Simmons, 26.

Simmons, a Mammoth Lakes ski resort employee, was arrested Nov. 22 in connection with the holdup of the Bank of America branch.

He was charged with robbery with the use of a deadly weapon.

There were no injuries and Simmons was found within 45 minutes of the robbery hiding in a dog crate at a residence on Belarra Drive, a few blocks from the bank.

In a request filed with the court, Roeser said the items tested by the Washoe Crime Lab included a shirt, shoes, gloves, Glock handgun with magazine, bullets, goggles with a hair attached, a repellent spray can and a backpack.

She said the DNA was tested to compare with Simmons' hair and saliva.

According to Roeser, many of the items had mixed DNA or levels too low to be significant.

"This is a young man facing 30 years in prison if convicted," Roeser said in her motion requesting the independent analysis.

She said the items would be tested by Forensic Science Associates in Richmond, Calif.

The cost is $175 per hour and she estimated the tests would take 30 hours.

Prosecutor Derrick Lopez agreed with the request. He pointed out that preliminary tests indicated some of the DNA belonged to Simmons.

"The clothing items indicate multiple samples, but also indicate the defendant is among the samples," Lopez said.

Simmons told the judge he realized he was giving up his right to a speedy trial.

The defendant had conditionally waived his right to a preliminary hearing in East Fork Justice Court, but reserved the right to ask for the hearing depending on the DNA results.

Gibbons set a review hearing for April 3.


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