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DNA evidence leads to jail time for Woodbury man

Some left-behind cigarette butts and a high-tech investigation snuffed out a burglar's chance of evading arrest and led to jail time for the Woodbury man.

Darrick Vall, 23, was sentenced June 16 to 120 days in jail following a second-degree burglary conviction. He pleaded guilty to the felony in April.

Vall was charged in September 2010 in a case that dated back to 2008.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court, Washington County deputies were called May 22, 2008, to a Lakeland residence for a possible burglary.

An adult child of the residents reported the crime; the residents had both been living in a nursing home.

Police investigated the scene and found evidence of a burglary - items were strewn around, a car in an attached garage had been tampered with and belongings were missing.

Police located what they believed to be the suspect's entry and exit points.

Less than a month later, an officer out on patrol near the house was flagged down by another of the residents' adult children. That woman told the deputy that while cleaning up the house, she had found two cigarette butts.

The butts were eventually sent to the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, where they were tested for DNA. The first test came back without a match, but state investigators continued periodic matching attempts.

On June 29, 2010, a Washington County detective received word from the BCA that a match had been made with Vall. The detective obtained a warrant to conduct a saliva swab on Vall; nearly two months later, BCA officials confirmed that DNA on the cigarette butts matched the sample provided by Vall.

According to online court records, Vall received credit for 64 days served as part of his sentence. Other terms of the sentence included a 10-year probationary period and $50 fine and an order to pay restitution to the victims.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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