VICTORVILLE – The charges for an El Mirage man, who was arrested in 2017, for the murder of his girlfriend who was found deceased in 1997, have been dropped.
On January 31, 1997, the remains of Colette Rowles, of Hesperia, were located on Highway 173, east of mile marker 173 in Summit Valley. Authorities learned that earlier that month, on January 3, 1997, Collette, who was 50-years-old went out to “Buckeye Bar”, in the City of Hesperia. She was accompanied by her boyfriend at the time named Barry Bryant, and two of their friends named Paul and Sandra. They all left in Paul’s truck and drove to Sandra’s Hesperia home. At some point, Bryant said that he and Colette got into an argument and she walked away from the home into the darkness of the night.
When her body was found, an autopsy was conducted. The autopsy determined that she died as a result of sharp force injuries. By the end of 1998, all leads were exhausted and the case went cold. In 2011, follow-ups were conducted, still leaving the case unsolved. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Cold Case Team reopened the case in 2017, leading to an interview with Bryant on May 16, 2017. Following the interview, Bryant was arrested for murder and booked into the West Valley Detention Center.
Bryant, who was facing 25 years to life in prison for murder, obtained representation by Wallin & Klarich, of Tustin, California. “The case against our client deteriorated when DNA evidence law enforcement believed had helped them solve a 20-year-old cold case was proven to be unreliable by Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Lynn,” said a Wallin and Klarich representative. A Wallin & Klarich representative said that the case was based solely on the fact that DNA samples found on Colette’s body matched Bryant, who was her boyfriend at the time. A DNA expert was brought in by Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Lynn. The forensic science expert reviewed the evidence against Bryant and found several untested hair samples on the victim that did not match the victim or Bryant. The forensic expert brought doubt to the case, by concluding that the DNA from Bryant was consistent with someone who was in a relationship with the victim.
“Our client consistently denied committing this crime. With the help of our DNA expert and additional lab results, we were able to show the District Attorney that the DNA evidence was inconsistent with our client committing the murder and convince prosecutors to dismiss all charges,” Mr. Lynn said. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office dismissed the case, and Bryant was released from custody. Authorities will be testing the other DNA samples on the victim in order to bring closure to the over 20-year-old case.
This article was written by a staff member of the 24/7 Headline News Organization
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