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United States v. Olson

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
846 F.2d 1103 (7th Cir. 1988)


Facts

Clifford Olson (defendant) was charged with murder. At trial, the prosecution sought to introduce bullets and bullet fragments taken from the victim’s body. After this evidence initially was sealed at the crime scene and taken to the crime lab, FBI Agent Gregory Hunter unsealed the evidence and packed it in cotton in preparation for it to be shipped to a different FBI lab. Agent Hunter died before trial, so the prosecution was not able to present specific evidence of how or when the evidence was replaced in the cartons. Olson objected to the introduction of this evidence based on a lack of a chain of custody. The trial court overruled the objection and admitted the evidence. Similarly, Olson objected to the introduction of a lead fragment that allegedly fell out of the victim’s arm when his body was moved at the crime scene. The prosecution testified that a police officer picked up the lead and that an FBI agent gave the same piece of lead to another FBI agent later in the day. Olson’s objection to the lead was that there was no evidence connecting the lead that the police officer picked up with the lead that the FBI agent handed off later in the day. The trial court overruled this objection as well. The jury convicted Olson. He appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coffey, J.)

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