The governor and Cabinet honored a Tampa crime lab analyst as "Forensic Scientist of the Year" on Tuesday for her work last year helping St. Petersburg police solve an 18-year-old homicide.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst Beth Ordeman helped produce a DNA profile from the baseball cap left behind by the man police said shot and killed James Butler in 1991.
"It's nice to see one of their analysts recognized for doing a good job on one of our cases," said St. Petersburg police Maj. Mike Kovacsev. "Too often they are overlooked in the process and don't get the recognition that they deserve.
"The family was grateful that after 18 years they finally had a sense of closure."
Butler, 25, had just pulled up to his Burlington Avenue N home after a trip to Blockbuster when police said a man shot him in the chest and stole his car. It was July 16, 1991. The only clues left behind were a bicycle and a Miami Hurricanes cap. Police believe Butler was killed in a random robbery.
The shooting went unsolved for nearly two decades until Brenda Stevenson, a civilian investigator who works part time on cold cases for the St. Petersburg Police Department, got a call from Butler's parents in 2007. The baseball cap had to belong to the shooter, they told her, because it didn't belong to their son.
Stevenson sent the cap to the FDLE for more testing in 2009. The analyst, Ordeman, used new DNA collection techniques to identify genetic material found on the hat, the state said.
The DNA profile belonged to Alphonso Williams, authorities said. His fingerprints also matched partial prints from the bike.
He was 19 when Butler was killed, but died in September 2007. Police said Williams was gunned down on his bike by someone in a passing SUV just 2 miles from where Butler was killed. Williams, 35, died after compiling an extensive criminal record.
His murder remains unsolved.
Ordeman, who has been with FDLE since 2001, is assigned to the department's Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center.