A single hair matching that of Officer Michael Dotro, 37, which was found embedded in a towel at the remains of the home has vanished, leaving only a hair that did not match Dotro in evidence. Without this crucial piece of DNA linking Dotro to the scene, the state is concerned that they may have a far more difficult time pursuing the case.
The incident took place on May 20, 2013, just four days after Captain Mark Anderko had ordered Dotro to undergo a psychological examination and moved him from working evenings to the day shift, due to the officer receiving his 11th use-of-force complaint.
The officer is also charged, along with three others, for conspiring to retaliate for a past official action, a fourth-degree offense that carries up to 18 months in prison, after he allegedly recruited three other officers to help him retaliate against another officer for giving one of his relatives a DUI.
Along with the charges above, Dotro has also been charged with buying marijuana while in uniform, conspiring to sell the drug, illegally accessing the department's records database for personal use and slashing the tires on the car owned by his former mistress, NJ.com reports.
Robert Norton, the 14-year veteran officer’s lawyer, has accused the prosecution of drumming up additional charges due to the exclusion of the DNA evidence.
"We don't think there's sufficient evidence to tie Mr. Dotro to the arson, and it is our belief that because of the lack of evidence, they've brought additional indictments which would not normally be prosecuted but for the fact it is the Edison Police Department and Mr. Dotro," Norton told NJ.com
Aside from the hair, the gasoline-soaked rags used as wicks in the bombing also matched rags found under the seat of Dotro’s truck. An additional towel found at the scene matched towels from the officer’s home.
Additionally, QuickChek gas station and Poland Spring water jugs smelling of gasoline and matching the ones used in the fire were found in Dotro’s garage.
Dotro and his wife both claimed they were at home the evening of the incident, but a text message from the officer’s wife asking where he was shortly before the fire revealed they had lied.
During this time, the officer was caught on surveillance camera’s at the QuickChek heading in the direction of the Captain’s home just before the fire, and returning only 15 minutes later.
The officer’s wife, Alycia Dotro, is free on $75,000 bail after she was charged with giving false information to police and with helping her husband slash the tires of her husband’s former mistress.
The former mistress testified that he once told her he "lit something of that neighbor's on fire," following a dispute. The neighbor he spoke of had a camper and shed burn to the ground and his tires slashed in 2008. The case was never solved. His ex-girlfriend also stated under oath that Dotro had offered to help her light her ex-boyfriend’s car on fire.
Dotro currently remains free on $2 million bail. He has been suspended without pay since the arrest.