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DNA on cigarette butt ties man to storage unit theft, police say

DNA on cigarette butt ties man to storage unit theft, police say

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Burleigh County authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a man they say stole more than $25,000 in construction equipment from Bismarck storage units and left behind DNA evidence on a cigarette butt.

Kevin Martin, 51, of Bismarck, is charged with two counts of felony theft, one of which could land him in prison for as much as 10 years if he’s convicted. He is accused of taking construction tools from a south Bismarck storage unit, some of which sheriff’s deputies found in his vehicle and at a local pawn shop, according to an affidavit.

Deputies were called to the unit in early August. They found a cigarette butt and submitted it to the State Crime Lab for processing. They learned in September that DNA on the cigarette butt was a match for a sample on file for Martin. Lab officials requested another sample from Martin to confirm the match, which is a routine practice when DNA is involved, Sheriff's Maj. Jim Hulm said. Deputies executed a search warrant to obtain the sample from Martin in October. He was arrested on an unrelated warrant at that time, police say.

Martin denied stealing the items. Someone had recently broken into his storage unit and “must have taken one of his cigarette butts and planted it” in the unit where it was found, he told police.

No attorney is listed for Martin in court documents.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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