• Subscribe to the AG's RSS Feed
  • Join the AG's FaceBook
  • Follow the AG on Twitter
  • View the AG's YouTube Channel
  • View the AG's Tumblr Page

Brown Cites First-Degree Murder Verdict As Further Evidence of Power of DNA Matches to Solve Violent Crimes

Friday, July 30, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said today that a jury’s verdict of first-degree murder this week in a 1988 homicide in Redding is a powerful example of how DNA analysis conducted every day by state laboratories can “stop criminals from getting away with murder.”

“The Harper conviction, like the Grim Sleeper arrest earlier this month, is further evidence that DNA is becoming an increasingly important factor in fighting violent crime,” Brown said. “Work being done every day in our labs stops criminals from getting away with murder.”

Brian Harper, 40, was convicted Tuesday afternoon in a Redding court room for the 1988 murder of Judith Hasselstrom, 43, a Shasta County woman whose body was found in a local park. Investigators determined she had been strangled.

After Hasselstrom’s murder 22 years ago, blood was found on bamboo stalks that covered her body, but there was no way then to submit DNA from the blood for forensic analysis. DNA technology had yet to be developed for use in criminal investigations, but in 2002, investigators were able to test that blood sample to create a DNA profile of an unknown suspect in Hasselstrom’s murder. No suspects were identified, however, and for years, the evidence remained stored in the Redding Police Department’s “cold case” locker.

Harper’s DNA was collected after he was convicted of a 2007 bank robbery. Although Harper had never been a subject of the murder investigation, his DNA was tested and found to match the DNA found at the 1988 murder scene. State forensic scientists were also able to match two palm prints found on the bamboo stalks to Harper’s prints. Harper initially denied knowledge of Hasslestrom’s murder, but eventually admitted to killing her.

It was Redding’s first cold case homicide arrest involving a DNA hit. The Shasta County jury trial lasted three weeks and came back with its first-degree murder verdict after several days of deliberations. Harper is scheduled to be sentenced on September 10. He faces 25 years to life in prison.

Like the “Grim Sleeper,” the Harper case is an important example of how every day Brown’s forensic labs use DNA to solve violent crimes. Harper’s conviction illustrates the state’s DNA program is fulfilling its promise to make Californians safer and to bring criminals to justice. Each day, an average of nine “hits” are made in which forensic scientists match crime scene DNA to that of a suspect in the state database of 1.5 million offenders and arrestees.

# # #

Subscriptions

Megan's Law

California Registered Sex Offender Database

Search Now

Megan's Law information is also available in these languages:

Site Navigation

Translate Website

  • Google™ Translation Disclaimer

This Google™ translation feature is provided for informational purposes only.

The Office of the Attorney General is unable to guarantee the accuracy of this translation and is therefore not liable for any inaccurate information resulting from the translation application tool.

Please consult with a translator for accuracy if you are relying on the translation or are using this site for official business.

If you have any questions please contact:Bilingual Services Program at (916) 324-5482

A copy of this disclaimer can also be found on our Disclaimer page.

Select a Language Below / Seleccione el Idioma Abajo

Close this box or use the [ X ]