The Marshall Project - The Lukis Anderson case
On November 30, 2012, Silicon Valley multimillionaire Raveesh Kumra was found dead at his mansion in Monte Sereno, CA in what it looked like a home invasion robbery, DNA testing of Kumra’s fingernails matched a San Jose 26 year old man called Lukis Anderson, who was a week later arrested and charged with first degree murder based on DNA evidence.
Lukis public defender Kelley Kulick soon learned that the police believed that the DNA found came from the struggle that happened when Lukis was trying to tie up the victim, but after talking with Lukis, who was homeless at the time and suffering from severe alcoholism, Kulick found out that the day of the murder Lukis had actually passed out while drinking and was taken to the hospital with an estimated blood alcohol content five times higher than the legal limit. The hospital records confirmed that he remained there all night in a comatose state, so it seemed like Lukis had the perfect alibi but there was still no explanation to why his DNA was found on the scene.
It was the detective conducting the investigation, Sgt. Erin Lunsford, who figured it out in the end, while reading through the medical records on Anderson, Lunsford paused on a name that sounded strangely familiar. After looking up the name he confirmed that it was from the paramedic who picked up Anderson from his repose, and to his surprise, turned out to be also the paramedic that was called three hours later to the Kumra mansion, where he unsuccessfully attempted to revive Raveesh.
The investigation then discarded any involvent of Lukis in the crime stating that he had a valid alibi and that a case of inadvertent DNA transfer had occurred. After he was exonerated, Lukis Anderson returned to the streets without receiving any kind of compensation, even though he spent almost 6 months wrongfully incarcerated.
Photographed for The Marshall Project in Santa Clara County, CA