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DNA Test Sought to ID Mysterious Man Accused of Having Weapons Arsenal in Manhattan

By DNAinfo Staff on December 23, 2010 5:43pm

A man who claimed his name is James O'Donnell may have to submit a DNA test to prove his identity.
A man who claimed his name is James O'Donnell may have to submit a DNA test to prove his identity.
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DNAinfo/John Marshall Mantel

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Authorities want to use DNA tests to determine the identity of a man they've arrested for allegedly possessing an arsenal of guns, ammunition and knives in a Manhattan Mini Storage locker.

The man, who calls himself James O'Donnell, 39, was in court on Thursday to face eight counts of weapons possession and an ammunition possession offense.

He was arrested on March 16 near St. Mark's Place allegedly carrying two firearms and a dagger. Authorities then searched a space he was using at the 220 South Street Manhattan Mini Storage facility. He has been held on $2 million bail since then.

But authorities and the court are unclear whether O'Donnell's is who he says he is. A source close to the case said there was no Social Security number or official form of identification to match O'Donnell to a real person.

They are trying to encourage him to take a DNA test.

"I have no idea where he's traveled in this time of terrorist attacks," Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lewis Bart Stone said at his court appearance Thursday, referring to the man's activities before he was arrested.

"The court is in a dilemma because there is no way of proceeding without knowing who this gentleman is," the judge added. 

O'Donnell was traced to Germany, where he apparently has a robbery conviction, prosecutors said. When he spoke to the judge, he claimed he served in the military, but did not say for which country.

He spoke with a twinge of an accent that was difficult to decipher.

"The [DA is] absolutely uncertain about his identity or [previous] whereabouts," the judge said, adding it was possible O'Donnell had previously "traveled to places he shouldn't have been."

"The only way we can know for certain is to test his DNA," Stone said.

O'Donnell was given until Feb. 20, 2011 to decide whether he would consent to the biological test. If he refused, the court may force him to submit to the test.