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Tree Evidence

Tree DNA evidence has led to the conviction, and now sentencing, of a man for illegally logging maple trees, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.

Justin Andrew Wilke was convicted in July on charges related to conspiracy, theft, and the trafficking and attempted trafficking of unlawfully harvested timber. Prosecutors argued that Wilke and three accomplices were part of an illegal logging operation near Olympic National Forest and that though Wilke said the wood he sold was legally logged from private land, a US Forest Service geneticist matched its DNA to that of three poached trees. Shawn Williams, one of the accomplices, previously pleaded guilty to theft as well as to charges related to a forest fire, which prosecutors alleged started when the men attempted to destroy a wasp nest near a tree they wanted to log.

As the Tacoma News Tribune notes, Wilke was not convicted of charges related to the forest fire. But based on the other charges for which he was convicted, he was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, it adds.