General Crime

Prosecutor says DNA Connects Steven Carlson to Murder of Tina Faelz in Pleasanton

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A prosecutor told jurors today that belatedly uncovered DNA evidence proves that a then-teenage boy murdered his 14-year-old high school classmate in Pleasanton 30 years ago. Tina Faelz’s stabbing death on April 5, 1984, remained unsolved for more than 25 years, but prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said a 2011 DNA test showed that a small amount of blood that was found on Faelz’s purse was Steven Carlson’s.

The chances of that blood belonging to someone other than Carlson, who was 16 at the time of Faelz’s murder and is now 46, are only 1 in 5 quadrillion, Pettigrew said. Carlson, who has a long criminal history, including convictions for committing lewd acts with a child under the age of 14 and assault, was arrested and charged with murdering Faelz in August 2011. Carlson and Faelz both attended Foothill High School in Pleasanton. Faelz was killed on her way home from school and was found dead in a ditch adjacent to Interstate Highway 680, east of the high school.

At Carlson’s preliminary hearing two years ago, a pathologist testified that Faelz died from 44 stabbing and incised wounds in her back, torso, chin and head. Pettigrew alleged today that Carlson “brutally murdered Tina and left her alive in a drainage ditch next to I-680.” The prosecutor said that at the end of the trial, she will ask jurors to conclude that, “The only reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that Steven Carlson is guilty of murdering Tina Faelz.”

Carlson’s lawyer, Annie Beles, said there are many questions about the DNA that was collected in the case, such as when it was collected, how it was collected, whether it was contaminated and whether it was improperly transferred. Beles said the prosecution also lacks other evidence that might connect Carlson to Faelz’s death, such as a motive, fingerprints or a weapon. “At the end of the case, after you listen to all of the evidence, the only verdict you will have is that Steven Carlson is not guilty,” Beles told jurors.

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