What If Your Identical Twin Commits Murder?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 26, 2011 9:50 AM

An interesting story out of Chandler, Arizona has people asking what happens when an identical twin commits murder.

Police originally arrested Orlando Nembhard for the nightclub shooting death of Sir Xavier Brooks, but eye witness accounts place his identical twin Brandon at the same club, with some saying that he actually fired the gun.

Without a murder weapon or further forensic evidence, what are police to do?

First, it's important to note that identical twins aren't exactly the same. In addition to environment-induced physical differences, they actually have different fingerprints.

Some twins might also have slight genetic variations, known as copy number variants. These are incredibly hard to detect and rare, though The Tech explains that scientists are working on a new test.

But as the case described above demonstrates, there are situations where identical twins aren't obviously different, and police have found no DNA or fingerprints.

In these situations, prosecutors have to rely on more nuanced evidence.

They need to look for alibis and information provided by people who really know the twins, including minute differences, like speech patterns and style of clothing.

They also need to consider things like vehicles and motives, as well as whether only one twin had access to the murder weapon.

Basically, the investigation needs to be conducted as though modern DNA technology and random eye witness accounts don't exist.

You might still be wondering why police don't just make the twins hash it out between themselves.

The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination, meaning that identical twins can't be forced to choose which one will take the fall, especially if they would both go free otherwise.

Clearly, when an identical twin commits murder, law enforcement has a tougher job to do. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that the culprit will never be ascertained.

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