Dad of 4 facing up to 18 years in prison for near-fatal shovel attack says ‘I know I’m not guilty’

(ABC NEWS)- A father of four, who was indicted based on a single drop of blood found at the scene of a 2008 near-fatal shovel attack in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says he didn’t do it and prosecutors can’t find any other evidence or a motive putting him at the scene of the crime.


“I am ready to move forward and prove my innocence,” Justin Hansen, 34, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ “20/20.” “It does scare me not knowing the what-ifs and what could happen.”


In April, Hansen pleaded no contest to attacking Brittani Marcell, then 17, at her home just before noon on Sept. 11, 2008.


Brittani Marcell’s mother, Diane Marcell who was heading home to meet Brittani for lunch, opened the front door and found her daughter lying on the floor just inside the house, covered in blood, and a man standing over her holding a shovel. Diane says the man then grabbed a knife from her kitchen, threatening her, but Diane was able to flee the home and call 911.


The man escaped – bursting through a window – leaving Brittani Marcell fighting for her life. Doctors discovered she had a broken left arm, a broken left wrist, multiple skull fractures, fixed pupils and minimal brain activity.


Brittani Marcell’s condition was listed as critical, and she was placed in a medically induced coma. There was no guarantee that Brittani Marcell would ever wake up, and if she did, no one was sure she would ever be the same.


After 10 days in a coma, Brittani Marcell regained consciousness but lost all memory of the attack. She would have to relearn how to read, write, walk, even swallow. But after years of rehabilitation she would get her high school diploma, and eventually even graduate college.


“It was scary after they told me what had happened,” Brittani Marcell told “20/20.” “I thought I was in a bad car accident. They’re like, ‘That’s far from what happened to you. You were beaten traumatically, with a shovel, in your house.’ It was hard to take in.”


Despite a drop of blood left behind by the suspect during his escape that provided Albuquerque Police Department detectives with a sample of his DNA and Diane Marcell’s description of the assailant, Brittani Marcell’s case went cold.


David Waymire, a deputy district attorney in Albuquerque, was assigned to the case in 2010.


“It was pretty obvious that unless Brittani Marcell recovered memories of the attacker, that the one and only piece of evidence was a single blood drop,” Waymire told “20/20.”


So two years after the attack, Waymire did something that had only been attempted once before in New Mexico. He indicted the DNA profile itself from that drop of blood without even knowing to whom it belonged in order to protect the case from the statue of limitations. This way when investigators finally found the attacker, they could attach his name to the existing indictment and ensure that he faced all possible charges.



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