A defense attorney claims faulty DNA evidence led the Buffalo police to arrest the wrong man for murder in a 42-year-old cold case.
The attorney for John M. Sauberan filed court papers this week asking a judge to dismiss a murder indictment accusing Sauberan of stabbing to death 19-year-old Linda Tschari. Her body was found on Feb. 8, 1978, in the small cottage where she lived on Pooley Place.
“My client denies having anything to do with her murder,” defense attorney Paul G. Dell told The Buffalo News on Friday. “He did not know this young woman. Our position is that DNA samples found at the murder scene 42 years ago have degraded to the point that there is not sufficient evidence to prove that John was there.”
Prosecutors and Buffalo police disagree with Dell.
When Sauberan, 60, was arrested in early March, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said his office and Buffalo police believed DNA evidence solidly linked Sauberan to the crime.
Prosecutors will oppose Dell’s motion to dismiss the indictment, Flynn said on Friday.
The case is pending before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio. Sauberan is being held without bail at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden on a charge of second-degree murder.
After Sauberan’s arrest, Flynn described him as a “drifter” who has lived in Western New York, Georgia, Florida and Oregon. Flynn said DNA obtained from Sauberan when he spent time in an Oregon prison in 2008 was entered into a national database. A check with that database led to Sauberan’s arrest in the Tschari murder case, Flynn said.
“I take issue with the description of my client as a drifter, because it creates the impression he left town to avoid the murder investigation,” Dell said on Friday. “We will show that he stayed here in the Buffalo area until 1990.”
Dell declined to comment when asked by The News why Sauberan was imprisoned in Oregon, or if he ever has been convicted of a violent crime.
Unsolved for more than four decades, the Tschari murder occurred in her West Side home during blizzard conditions. Police said a trail of blood drops led from Tschari’s cottage to a yard outside.
Police said Tschari was a Lafayette High School graduate who had worked at a bank and a hospital, and was studying for a career in bartending.
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