Man netted by DNA swab found guilty in grisly Michigan murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2011 3:53 PM
Man netted by DNA swab found guilty in grisly Michigan murder

By Ned Randolph

PONTIAC, Mich (Reuters) - A California man was found guilty on Wednesday of castrating, sodomizing and beating a Michigan man to death in 2001, after a DNA swab taken during a theft arrest linked him to the grisly crime.

Robert Nowak, 51, will receive a mandatory automatic life sentence without parole after being found guilty by a Michigan jury for the first-degree premeditated murder of Troy Moross, 26, in February 2001.

Moross' body was found behind a machine shop in the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights owned by Nowak's father. Nowak had sometimes worked and lived at the shop.

The trail on the murder went cold for eight years until Nowak was arrested for larceny in Riverside, California in 2009. A DNA swab taken from him matched semen collected from Moross' body that had been logged into an FBI national database, forensics experts testified during the trial.

Prosecutors portrayed Nowak as a violent man with a history of unprovoked attacks. A former girlfriend testified that Nowak pistol whipped her on her head and raped her in 1999. Another woman who worked near the tool shop testified Nowak had attacked her with a steering column lock-rod in 2009.

A deputy medical examiner testified that Moross had been struck 18 times in the head with a blunt object and, as he lay dying, he was cut in several places, castrated and sodomized with a foreign object.

Defense attorneys argued that the DNA might indicate Nowak had consensual sex with Moross, but did not mean he had killed him. They also pointed at DNA that did not belong to Nowak found on Moross' fingernails and from a cigarette butt at the scene as evidence someone else may have committed the murder.

They had sought to point toward a federal investigation of a sex torture cult in a nearby suburb as a possible source of the wounds Moross sustained, but a federal agent was barred from testifying for the defense.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)