A Fort Carson officer linked by DNA to a string of sexual assaults on young girls will be allowed to blame his twin brother at trial, a judge ruled Friday.
Fourth Judicial District Judge David Shakes ruled it would be "inappropriate" to bar 1st Lt. Aaron Lucas' attorneys from presenting his identical twin, Brian Frederick Lucas, as an alternate suspect in the crimes given their shared DNA.
In criminal prosecutions, DNA is widely considered a smoking gun -- but only "in the absence of an identical twin," a phrase uttered almost any time a forensic expert is called to testify about biological evidence in court.
The judge cited evidence that besides sharing genetic markers linked to the assaults, Brian Lucas also owns a black Acura sedan like one described by a young girl who was sexually assaulted in Madison, Ala., in 2007 -- a crime for which Aaron Lucas is suspected.
"Whether it's persuasive or not -- that's not my role," Shakes said in clearing the way for the defense at a Friday hearing. "It's the role of the jury."
Lucas, 32, is scheduled to be tried Jan. 4 in 4th Judicial District Court in lewd encounters with 11 adolescent girls who were approached by a stranger in the Pikes Peak region. Three were sexually assaulted, authorities say.
The decorated artillery officer became a suspect when he was spotted at a Fountain playground by an officer investigating reports of a stranger targeting young girls.
A DNA test linked him to an 8-year-old girl's abduction in Colorado Springs and also matched biological material recovered from the unsolved Alabama case and another attack on a young girl in Texarkana, Tex., in 2009, authorities say.
Although he will only be tried in local crimes, prosecutors previously won the judge's approval to introduce evidence of the out-of-state crimes in a bid to establish a pattern of conduct.
The defense says Brian Lucas lived in both Texas and Alabama.
The twin brother denied involvement in the crimes under interrogation by the Madison County, Ala., sheriff's office, investigators testified Friday.
Brian Lucas said he had been to Colorado once in the past decade, and didn't visit El Paso County, according to testimony by Fountain detective Sgt. Scott Gilbertson, who was part of a task force that investigated the crimes.
El Paso County investigators testified Friday they are unaware of other steps taken by law enforcement groups in Texas or Alabama to rule Brian Lucas out as a suspect, and The Gazette has been unable to reach him for comment on the allegations.
The judge also permitted Lucas' attorneys to suggest a Colorado Springs man as the possible culprit in some of the local crimes.
Aaron Lucas was ordered to return to court Nov. 26 for further pretrial motions.