SKOWHEGAN — A Skowhegan man has been convicted of burglary based on DNA evidence retrieved from blood collected at the crime scene in June, police said Monday.

DNA in blood found at the scene matched a profile of Michael Coppa’s DNA that was on file with the FBI. It also matched DNA from a sample taken during a recent swab of Coppa’s mouth, Police Chief Ted Blais said.

Coppa, 25, was convicted in a Skowhegan court Jan. 21 on a single count of burglary June 9 in Skowhegan. He was sentenced to three years in prison with all but nine months and one day suspended and two years’ probation.

Blais said blood found inside the Cedar Street residence where the burglary occurred matched Coppa’s DNA, which was on file with the FBI’s CODIS program from a previous burglary conviction.

DNA samples are taken from people convicted of felony crimes in Maine and logged with state criminal investigation files and with the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, a program of support for criminal justice DNA databases and software used to run the databases.

The National DNA Index System or NDIS, includes DNA profiles contributed by federal, state and local participating forensic laboratories, according to the FBI website.

Skowhegan Detective Joshua King served a court-approved search warrant on Coppa for a mouth swab to get a DNA sample to confirm the hit with the federal DNA information, Blais said. King also executed a second search warrant on a cellular telephone found inside the residence that did not belong to the victim.

Blais said it was the first time his department has used DNA in a criminal case since he became police chief in June 2013. The investigation was led by the Skowhegan Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

“He was a suspect at the time, and when we went to the house we found he had cut himself at the house,” the chief said. “Josh King collected the blood sample. Once the blood sample went in, the actual ‘hit’ came up in the system that the DNA already existed — it was already on file because of past criminal behavior.”

Blais said District Attorney Maeghan Maloney wanted to make sure the DNA was a match so a search warrant for a mouth swab was secured in court and the match was confirmed.

“The whole science of DNA has really taken off in the past 10 years,” Blais said. “There are a lot of cases now that they are now confirming or finding different information regarding DNA. It’s really cool — the odds of a non-relative having the same DNA as Coppa were estimated to be less than one in 300 billion.”

Coppa was alleged to have stolen several decorative crystal items, which were found in a trash bag outside the home. The victim’s daughter’s military uniform, which also was stolen, was not recovered.

At the time of Coppa’s arrest he was being held at Somerset County Jail on a domestic assault and a revocation of his administrative release, Blais said. Coppa was arrested Dec. 1 at an apartment house at 39 Russell Road in Skowhegan after an alleged attack on a woman there. Police said he was a suspect in the burglary at the time of the domestic assault arrest.

Coppa was also wanted on warrants for violating the conditions of his release as part of the Somerset County Community Corrections Program, which he had entered into in August but never showed up for court-ordered visits with corrections officials, authorities said.

The Somerset County Community Corrections Program is a post-conviction and pre-trial home release service in which participation must be allowed by a judge. Those in the program must check in twice weekly in person and check in by telephone every night and can be tested for drugs. If the contract they sign to enter the program is violated, it is revoked and the person is subject to arrest and jail time.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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