A Glenville man is facing an unusual evidence-tampering charge for allegedly intentionally contaminating a burglary scene by touching potentially crucial evidence before police arrived, authorities said.
John M. Cummings, 41, of 6 Ellen St., was arrested last week and accused of showing up at the home of an acquaintance just after she discovered the burglary. He allegedly touched an air conditioner and a mail holder prior to police arriving, according to papers filed in court.
In doing so, Cummings is accused of contaminating potential DNA evidence in the case.
He faces one count of tampering with physical evidence, a felony. He was released to return to court later. Through his attorney, Steve Kouray, he denies the charge.
The incident happened the evening of June 6 at a Front Street residence. The resident came home and discovered her home had been burglarized, with cash and some lottery tickets taken.
Soon after she came home, Cummings showed up, prosecutor William Sanderson said, adding that the victim hadn’t summoned him.
Cummings purported to help the resident by moving the air conditioner the burglar had removed from the window, then started touching other items where the burglar had been, including the mail holder.
“And then he states to them, ‘Make sure you tell the police when they’re collecting evidence that I touched these things,’ ” Sanderson said.
The result, Sanderson said, is any DNA evidence found on the items can’t be relied upon.
Cummings, Sanderson said, has not been charged with the burglary but has not been ruled out as a suspect, either. The investigation is continuing, he said.
Kouray said Wednesday his client denies intentionally contaminating the evidence. He also denies any involvement in the burglary. Kouray also disputed the account of how Cummings came to arrive at the residence.
Kouray said for a charge of tampering with physical evidence, there has to be intent to tamper and a knowledge that that’s what a person is doing.
“My understanding is the facts don’t support that,” he said.