Posted by Phoenix Armed Robbery Attorney Nick Alcock:

Thanks to a bloody nose and a resourceful FBI agent a boxer could be facing jail time following his most recent boxing match. Martin Tucker, a light welterweight, won his last boxing match, but a bloody cotton swab discarded at the ring was picked up by undercover FBI agent Robert Schmitz, who was investigating a bank robbery. As Tucker’s cornerman stuck a Q-Tip up Tucker’s bloody nose, the FBI investigator stood eagerly by and swiped the bloody Q-Tip when given the opportunity. The Q-Tip was then taken back to FBI labs where agents were able to match Tucker’s DNA with DNA taken from a ski mask that was used in the robbery.

Schmitz suspected 32-year-old Tucker was involved in a 2009 armed robbery of a credit union in Temperance, Michigan. Subsequent tests of the DNA collected from the bloody swab proved his hunch correct. Tucker, a roofer and part-time boxer, was arrested this week, and ordered held without bail. He’s accused of using a semi-automatic weapon in the theft of nearly $5,400.

One other man involved in the robbery, Quentin Sherer, was arrested in November 2011. During his investigation of the robbery, Schmitz began looking through Sherer’s social networking profiles and found a picture of Sherer and Tucker together, according to court documents filed by Schmitz. Tucker matched the physical description of the unknown suspect in the 2009 robbery. Schmitz began looking into Tucker. “In a Myspace Internet search, Schmitz learned that Tucker was featured in a boxing match in Toledo, Ohio,” the affidavit reads. “During the match, Tucker sustained a bloody nose, and Schmitz was able to obtain a discarded Q-tip that contained Tucker’s blood.” That Q-tip was submitted to an FBI lab, where it was found that Tucker’s DNA matched the DNA found on a mask worn by one of the alleged bank robbers, as well as the steering wheel of the getaway vehicle.

Tucker is scheduled to appear in court at the end of the month. His attorney, Haytham Faraj, told the Associated Press he wasn’t sure that the blood evidence was necessary in this case, but he declined to comment on Tucker’s role in the robbery. He did say he sees nothing illegal in Schmitz’s recovery of the Q-tip. “We leave our fingerprints, bits of hair and skin all over the place. If you’re a boxer, sometimes you leave your blood around,” Faraj told the AP. “It is a dramatic twist. It makes for an interesting read.”

While things may not look good for the boxer, he should know that DNA evidence is not unassailable. Frequently, challengers of DNA evidence will focus on the behavior of the investigators and forensic analysts in an attempt to cast doubt on the results of DNA profiles. For example, a lab scientist may have improperly handled and stored the DNA evidence. Or the FBI investigator may have mishandled the Q-Tip when retrieving it initially. Another well-known athlete, O.J. Simpson, was able to beat DNA evidence with such arguments. Though it’s doubtful that the journeyman boxer arrested in this case will have the resources available to hire such a dream team of lawyers for his defense.

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