For those who insist Tony Villegas was framed for the murder of attorney Melissa Britt Lewis in March 2008, one key piece of evidence begs for extra attention.
After Melissa disappeared, Plantation police discovered her abandoned Cadillac in a parking lot in Plantation. In the trunk was the brown suit jacket Melissa had been wearing the day she disappeared. According to Melissa's best friend, Debra Villegas, the suit was brand new. Melissa had just bought it and never worn it before March 5, 2008, when she wore it to work and modeled it for Debra in her office at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Alder law firm. (Read more about that day in last week's New Times feature story.)
Crime-scene investigators discovered blood on the jacket, and they took it to the lab for
further testing. On March 19, 2008, a DNA specialist from the Broward Sheriff's Office crime lab produced a report saying that Tony Villegas' DNA was on the jacket. "With reasonable scientific certainty, Tony Villegas is considered the source of the DNA from the evidentiary sample," the report said.
However, the report did not specify what kind of DNA Tony had left on the jacket. According to the report, no semen was found, and Tony was never accused of raping Melissa. So was the DNA from his blood, hair, or something else?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
New Times posed this question to the Broward State Attorney's office, but spokesman Ron Ishoy declined to comment. Although the DNA report is public -- the prosecutor must make such documents available to the defense attorney, and the public can view them as well -- no further explanation is required.
"The answer goes beyond the discovery process and we can't comment," Ishoy wrote in an email.
So the mystery remains. To view the full DNA report and try to decipher it yourself, click here.
Tony Villegas, meanwhile, has been charged with first-degree murder but was recently declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. It's unclear when the case will move forward.