Investigation into Killing of Alanna Gallagher, 6, Sheds Light on High Tech Evidence Gathering

A high profile investigation into the killing of a 6-year-old in Saginaw, Texas, highlights the increasing complexity of evidence gathering in the modern era.

The death of Alanna Gallagher has shocked a Texas community. Her body was found earlier this month in the middle of a Saginaw road, naked and wrapped in a tarp. The investigation has attracted national media attention.

The Dallas Morning News reported the authorities are seeking more information to help them solve the case and billboard messages have been posted by the FBI across the area.

The high profile approach to the investigation has been accompanied by the seizure of scores of electronic items from the dead girl’s home.

The Dallas Morning News’ crime blog made reference to Tarrant County court documents showing the authorities planned to conduct a forensic analysis of “numerous computers, hard drives, thumb drives, cameras and iPods seized from the home where Alanna lived with her family in the 600 block of Babbling Brook Drive.”

In all the police and FBI agent seized more than 100 items from the home a day after Alanna’s body was found. Police said they don’t have any suspects.

The Dallas Morning News reported a Tarrant County judge sealed the affidavits for the search warrants for the home as well as the analysis of the electronics. “However, state law does not allow for the sealing of warrants or warrant returns and inventories,” the article stated.

The warrant for the forensic analysis stated the items “may contain evidence of a criminal offense.”

The warrant said police were searching for a number of items including a Wal-Mart receipt and plastic bags, packaging and red duct tape, a men’s belt of size 38-44 and “any material that could be used to bound hands or feet.”

The girl was reported to have been bound and that her body was wrapped in a tarp with a belt. Her head was also covered with a bag, police said.

In murder investigations the stakes are high. The pressure is on local police and FBI agents to make an arrest quickly, and this can lead to short cuts being taken with evidence and too much pressure being placed on witnesses and suspects.

In many cases overworked homicide detectives have only made a cursory investigation. Our criminal defense attorneys can hire a top private investigator can find favorable witnesses who were not interviewed by the police. Sometimes it is very important to hire experts to challenge the police laboratory’s forensic analysis.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.