Case Study of Eric Asante on the use of forensic DNA analysis
The primary aim of forensic science is to assist law enforcement agencies and the legal system in fulfilling their primary functions such as the prevention, detection, and investigation of crime, and the delivery of justice. The outcome of legal cases in Ghana is underreported, particularly cases from the lower courts.
In early November 2003, a 14-year old junior high school girl was found by her uncle-in-law writing a love letter to one Mr Eric. The content of the letter indicated she had met Mr Eric the previous day and “given him what he wanted”. She thanked Mr Eric for giving her money and expressed her love for him. She further explained that she was unwell and thus will not be able to visit him.
The uncle-in-law alerted the mother and auntie of the girl who questioned her about the letter. She disclosed that Mr Eric is her teacher and boyfriend. The case occurred at Nyohini in the Northern Region of Ghana. The family confronted Mr Eric Asante and he denied the affair.
A report of defilement was subsequently made to the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Tamale Police on 14th November 2003. The victim was issued a medical form to attend a medical examination at the Tamale Teaching Hospital where she disclosed to the medical officer that Mr Eric is her boyfriend. She also mentioned that the last time she had sex with Mr Eric was on 12 November 2003.
A pregnancy examination of the victim returned positive, showing that she was 23 weeks pregnant. She stated that Mr Eric was responsible for the pregnancy. Although Mr Eric maintained his innocence, he was convicted and handed a 15-year prison sentence for defilement on 5 September 2005 at the Tamale High Court.
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction in April 2006. A further appeal was made to the Supreme Court and an order was issued to conduct a DNA test of the child in 2014. The test was carried out by the Forensic Science Laboratory in July 2015. The appellant was released from prison in September 2015 for good conduct.
The report of the DNA test was adduced as new evidence in the appeal case in July 2016. The DNA result excluded Mr Eric Asante as the father of the child and the initial conviction was quashed in January 2017. However, the Court stated that the “appellant is not entitled to an acquittal on the sole ground that the DNA evidence excludes him”.
Nevertheless, in their “judgment, the DNA evidence does tremendous damage to the credibility of the victim and her disposition to speak the truth, in this case, is put in serious doubt”.A Zeno.FM Station