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Roundtable: Tuite Not Guilty; Genetic Testing Shutdown; Drones Coming To San Diego?

December 6, 2013 1:10 p.m.


Mark Sauer


Amita Sharma, KPBS News

David Wagner, KPBS News

JW August, 10News

Related Story: Roundtable: Tuite Not Guilty; Genetic Testing Shutdown; Drones Coming To San Diego?


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MARK SAUER: I am Mark Sauer and KPBS Roundtables starts now. Welcome it's Friday, December 6, I am Mark Sauer. Here on the Roundtable today are Amita Sharma, David Wagner, and JW August. We have breaking news today, Richard Tuite has been found not guilty of the murder of twelve-year-old Stephanie Crowe. The jury's verdict was ready this morning, he spent more than a decade in prison after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of the girl. The new conclusion today and that made national headlines with Stephanie's brother and two friends. He's a transient this is a surprise, the original verdict and seven years ago he's been in prison since 1999.

JW AUGUST: I think everyone in the city is asking what this means. You look at some of the reviews get has been fifteen years. He was a homeless drifter with drug issues and he had prescience with of all, you've been seen stalking girls and he had and doing some time in prison before of the state mental prison before the killing. The indications were there that he could be a possible suspect at the time, the one that talk about his background. The stock above the case itself, it was pretty straightforward, explain to us. We had witnesses around him at the time. They found blood on two articles and the blood on his clothing was from the girl.

MARK SAUER: We'll get back to that in a minute and there is a lot of speculation and stories on this. He was found wearing that structure wears seven several drops of blood were on his sweatshirt and T-shirt. It's very interesting.

AMITA SHARMA: You and I covered the trial back in Chico before. We have followed this truck most recent trial. What is the difference in the evidence presented in this trial in the original trial? What changed?

MARK SAUER: The original trial was about four months and this is about six weeks, about less than half the time. I don't think the jury saw all of the interrogation confession tapes. We'll get that in a minute. Stephanie's brother and two friends were originally arrested until they found this blood evidence. The case itself was botched. There is no word for it. The Escondido police that JW was alluding to this paid a 7.2 million delivery to the family. They do not do that if they did everything right this case. This jury today, they will be interviewing the jurors and it's too soon, the purchase came out but will try to find out. What did you say? At can tell you that the 2004 case about forty minutes with those jurors they dumped the whole three of the. The defense that the boys did and they confess that they did it, they immediately turned to see if there is enough at adding evidence against Richard. Eventually they found him for involuntary manslaughter. I don't know it would be interesting to talk to those jurors.

AMITA SHARMA: Has just been served this case is the system worked?

JW AUGUST: The justice system is not bad but it's not great. This is an example that you have to wonder what happened here, he had a judge ruled last year that the man was innocent.

MARK SAUER: Discharge for several days with all of the evidence and confessions and interrogation tapes and they found this factual innocence. It's not just not guilty, there declaring him factually innocent. Apparently this jury did not hear that evidence.

AMITA SHARMA: What was the reasoning for that? Speeches who want a lot of that allow that, in the factual innocence hearing it says that this cannot be used in any other proceeding in this committee declared publicly and as far as they settle civil case that is declared not relevant to the better for Mister Tuite.

AMITA SHARMA: What do they do this verdict?

MARK SAUER: It would be interesting to talk to them now, they all moved to Oregon and there are some of the people in the community who did not believe that the boys were completely innocent and they simply got out of town eventually. It's been a compounded tragedy.

JW AUGUST: I can only imagine the agony that they are feeling now. In another jury finds that he didn't do it, and a lot of the public does not look at the proof for the evidence.

MARK SAUER: I want to ask David that, you're represent a big of folks who come to San Diego and they do not realize what a media sensation this is, what you make of this?

DAVID WAGNER: I've really only been following it this late in the game. I do not know much about it and I would be curious to hear what you think this sort of legacy is that this case has.

MARK SAUER: That is an interesting question, NPR had a long discussion on this yesterday. It goes into the case of course confessions. We have had with an 200 men released from death row almost all of them on DNA forensic evidence. 25% of those had confessions, and those were false confession cases and this was a false confession case. These boys have been in prison all of these years.

JW AUGUST: I looked at all of the police take tapes and this was a case of portion of the part of the cops. That is why the jury found the family in the lawsuit.

MARK SAUER: We have about a minute left, with just the panel here we had about seven months of two that blood revelation, the media was how they pre-convicted these boys. They blocked the statements on this saying that and they did not really look at the confessions, did we fail as the media back and let time to not be skeptical skeptical enough of this case?

AMITA SHARMA: I don't know about that because I was not here at this time at the time but I can say that there are people within the legal committee said they that are pretty smart strongly divided on this issue. There are many positions separate those boys are guilty the site and in spite of the evidence.

MARK SAUER: Them judges that the tapes and called of course, if the boys did good to tell trial there is over thirty hours of tape said several judges like this and they called of course case.

JW AUGUST: Anyone who looks at this place tapes they will see what happened in that interrogation.

MARK SAUER: A lot more questions to come and hopefully jurors will give their explanations before this case. We will shift gears now to our next topic for most of us who would be an intelligent and valuable to know whether or not we have genetic disposition for diseases. What if there was a way to analyze DNA to look for disease? That is what a California firm 23andMe promise, but when the FDA tried to check it out, 23andMe blew them off. Now they are being sued. Tell us about their background and what it said his company what they were trying to say that they could do for folks?

DAVID WAGNER: This is a Silicon Valley-based company that has a Google founder. Their pitches their turn to be this genomics revolution to the typical consumer. For ninety-nine dollars, you can get one of these spit kits that you mail in some saliva and they test it and deliver a detailed report on your genetics and says controversially your predisposition to diseases and medical conditions.

MARK SAUER: They marketed this, how much were they and what was the basics sales rep?

DAVID WAGNER: They used to be about more about $400 and now they are $100 and that's cheaper for thank you. It's basically that they educate yourself about educate yourself about your genetics and if you have Neanderthal DNA you know how much Neanderthal DNA you have it if you can smell asparagus in your pee, the very serious things about how predisposed you are to developing Alzheimer's or other diseases.

MARK SAUER: JW you may have Neandertha; DNA.

JW AUGUST: But maybe it can help my golf game. This directs to computer gives consumer cells that going on. They don't need a doctor to tell you how to do this for someone to recommend something, the consumer market and is kind of controversial. Claritin put it on the market. Attended to Goldmine for the industry, and now the consumer marketing is a major player but there are problems with that because of the case of these kids, when people get that information they can get complacent.

DAVID WAGNER: The lawsuit comes after and it was followed days after the the FDA slaps them with a sternly worded letter saying that they need to stop marketing the kids because they have not tested or improved them. See what the FDA tried to sit down with them and get them to answer some questions as well.

DAVID WAGNER: Some people are trying to spin this narrative where evil regulators shut down this company is ready a people educated about genetics, what you really see is if you pay attention out FDA letter, you see a regulator really trying to be accommodating. They spent years trying to get 23andMe to test the product and get the necessary approval, they went for about half a year without hearing anything from them whatsoever, and they just leave them off so the FDA had to do what it did and now we see this lawsuit.

MARK SAUER: Tell us specifically what is the lawsuit aside from the FDA.

DAVID WAGNER: The lawsuit basically built off of the FDA thing and if the FDA think this thinks that this is not approved for medical purposes, and 23andMe was selling it to consumers that way, should considers consumers get the note their money back, should they get that hundred dollars back considering that they did not have medical approval?

MARK SAUER: When you get this information back, and they say you if you're told you have diabetes or cancer, what to do with that?

AMITA SHARMA: I don't want to know that information I think a lot of people do. My question is for the people do, why would you do this test when it simply does not compacts compared to the whole genome test, which I understand this $3000, but what is your expectation?

DAVID WAGNER: Upsetting for a lot of people it's interest in the subject, we hear a lot about genetics in the news and it's only ninety-nine dollars, it's very easy service and I think the other story is 23andMe have this huge advertising public radio listeners, had a view of downloaded podcasts from NPR you for the ads, they recently went on TV and they are really pushing this to consumers and basically the issue here is whether it has been oversold and if you look at the science there is cause to believe that this has been oversold.

MARK SAUER: Like you really find out to the test?

DAVID WAGNER: Certain conditions, there is a huge very clear correlation between certain genetic occasions and diseases, most famously like the dictation that predisposes someone to breast cancer which Angelina Jolie really but that out of the spotlight. The CEO of 23andMe really talked up the whole Angelina Jolie story in interviews about their product, and the implication was that you could get results back from 23andMe and that make medical decisions based on that which is something that the FDA is very concerned about.

MARK SAUER: And this is not the end only company doing this, there is inconsistent resulting claims of other folks?

DAVID WAGNER: That is another issue with these direct consumer products, they are not always right and they do return false positives and false negatives, and so what you do with that, the risk is that consumers will be pressuring doctors into doing and getting and making medical decisions that doctors are not based on the best tests.

MARK SAUER: We have a large medical research committee here in San Diego, what does he say about this sort of thing and how soon will we have something that will go through the future part of the genome and be more useful?

DAVID WAGNER: It has called attention to the fact that these test can be inconsistent and can be incorrect at times, but it 23andMe as a Silicon Valley company that has a different approach to personal health than companies here in San Diego, so while a lot of a lot of things are happening in with genomics in San Diego, 23andMe is very different. These tests are very cheap because they are not really making money on the test, they are trying to become the Google of personal health and their treated of the huge database of genetic information here.

MARK SAUER: Let's start about that, they are doing a lot more information than just specific results is before the goal ultimately is to make money off of the data for this genetic information not necessarily to make money off of the tests, but they are making an effort.

AMITA SHARMA: So is there an understanding of how much this type of information is the neglected?

DAVID WAGNER: I think they have about a half 1 million people that have brought bought the 23andMe Try to get 1 million people to get by the year's end. A lot of people have taken 23andMe up on the offer and so far the data is only being shared with medical researchers and it's unclear what would they will do that in the future.

JW AUGUST: Why would they ignore the FDA? Why would you do that?

DAVID WAGNER: That is the question. Afford supporter said that this is the dumbest regulatory strategy that he is seated decades of covering the FDA, I do not know why will you wouldn't let the FDA is one thing to sort of push back against the FDA is a local product is very new and may not fall under the medical device character category, but to completely blow them off for half a year is not cool.

MARK SAUER: Common sense would say if you're fearful of them that approving.

AMITA SHARMA: How do you even get away with ignoring the FDA?

DAVID WAGNER: You don't. That's what it wants to mention and 23andMe just announced that they will no longer have health information into the they will still keep selling the cats. They will not give results that tell you about your predispositions to Alzheimer's or other health issues.

MARK SAUER: So your Neanderthal status may be important.

AMITA SHARMA: Or could be a Christmas present!

MARK SAUER: Let's shift gears here, and the air draft any aircraft drones can be used for good or bad, and there are so many uses that and Jones drones are a growth industry. Some business backers in San Diego hope to join this economic boom by a lending a test site for an unmanned air assessments for the FAA. But there are many who object on even moral grounds.

AMITA SHARMA: There are a variety of issues that of support. For some people, there are strong moral objections, a lot of people equate equate Jones with US military supplies assault on terrorists, and sometimes it up some people and collateral damage of when women and babies and civilians are being killed in pieces like Pakistan and at Afghanistan and the Middle East, they just have immediate visceral world reaction to drones, they don't want anything to do with that in their backyard. And there's another group of people who say while there is great that the potential with this technology, they see agriculture and public safety and fire fighting and improving dramatically in efficiency and effectiveness, but they want controls on them, they want them to be properly regulated, they don't want this area of the United States to be come turning into what could be a surveillance society, they want reasonable assertions is that privacy will be protected and that people are not going to be spying on them, but that said it should be understood that former FBI director already admitted to Congress back in June that drones have been used for domestic surveillance and the FAA has already granted any law enforcement agencies in the country the right to use drones. There are no privacy guidelines in place right now. The former FBI director already admitted that.

MARK SAUER: Tell us about that site in particular where is it an abundant the process for this court

AMITA SHARMA: This falls into San Diego County and falls into the border with Mexico, all the way up to Central California little bit past Central California almost in Northern California and kind of skips over LA. Searches to the bottom border with Arizona, and it stretches eastward as well. To what some folks in Julian this week they had a meeting but a lot of people showed up, there were a lot of people who did not know about it and they were upset about not knowing about it they feel like they've been shut out of the process they want assurances that the privacy will be guarded and other people gather that this is horrible but you know are government and we will do anything about this, then there is another segment who thinks that a lot of people don't know about this and let's push this movement out into central San Diego in northern San Diego really get out there.

JW AUGUST: The same people are complaining about the security farm that wanted to open a training center, it's very unpopular.

MARK SAUER: Of these people have done a lot of contracts with the government.

AMITA SHARMA: People who live in the East County live there because they want privacy. It's a different breed of people and the a lot of people within the country and a lot of Americans that have strong start of objections to domestic surveillance and but it is interesting, they want the Board of Supervisors to hold a public hearing and I do not know if that will happen, I know that Republicans and Congress have raised questions about this, Duncan Hunter drone representative has raised questions about this, if you're going to court to incorporate drones into commercial use, which the FAA's community guidelines on doing this by 2015, this is part of what this test site is all about, the purposes for drone makers to do to these tests I did have these tests at the evaluated. To figure out how to safely incorporate drones into the national airspace.

MARK SAUER: David you did a feature on KPBS earlier this year and talk about the other side about this and the testing and making this kind of a manufacturing post.

DAVID WAGNER: We already have drone manufacturers in her backyard. What is interesting about the economic argument for bringing this is site here is that, I talked to Duncan Hunter and he was one of the ones who is part of this drone group and is very keen of growth bringing this test site here and at the same time that is what is so interesting about this issue to me, he did not put people in favor of bringing drones. There really worried about privacy. You hear from very left side privacy advocates and antiwar types, and then you hear from staunch Republicans saying basically the same thing about privacy concerns.

AMITA SHARMA: I spoke with the San Diego economic development Corporation this weekend, they are open-ended about this. They think that this is the next best thing since the Internet. I think that they think that this figures were exaggerated for California, it's more nationally so they think it is going to pump $90 billion into the economy and I think that is more the national economy that is going to create a 12000 jobs, it will generate something like $70 million in tax revenue, the potential is great and everybody agrees that the potential is great, but there are risks are great as well.

MARK SAUER: We should talk quickly in the time that we have left about some of the firefighting and good things that could come out of these.

AMITA SHARMA: Rights of drones or use this past summer to do surveillance on fires and figure out which way the fire was going and firefighters have said without that technology it really helps.

JW AUGUST: And on the other side of the Texas Legislature this past year passed a law that limited the the use of private civilians using Jones with cameras on them and greatly expanded the use of the police, police in Texas could do anything that they want with drones.

MARK SAUER: I can't send my drones to spy on your house.

JW AUGUST: No. And they also did the shooting of a toxic spill, instead of addressing the issue of this bill the legislature decided to ban citizens from using drones.

MARK SAUER: We have to wrap up there, that was a great discussion and I appreciate it. That wraps up another week of stories on KPBS Roundtable. I would like to thank my guests Amita Sharma, David Wagner, and JW August. All the topics that we discussed they are available on our website. I am Mark Sauer, Senior Editor at KPBS, thank you for joining us today on the Roundtable.