Naturally, Saunders tried to deny the charges—”It must have been the RACCOONS!”—but DNA testing fingered him as the culprit.
From WHAS 11:
Hill discovered that 52 of the bottles had been emptied in March 2012, and reported it to police. All four cases of whiskey had been emptied within about a year, Pitts said.
Saunders denied that he consumed the vintage alcohol, but police tested the empty bottles to see if they matched Saunders' DNA. After seven months of testing, police confirmed that Saunders' DNA was found on the bottles, and charged him with felony theft and receiving stolen property, Pritts said.
“The DNA doesn't lie. I'm just disappointed a family friend of over 40 years has lied,” Hill said, according to WTAE. “It's a shame it took historic whiskey to realize and come to this point, but if it saved his life, maybe that's the best of it all.”
You just know that Saunders' train of thought. We've all been there in some fashion; probably not with a $2,000 bottle of whiskey, but definitely with, say, a hotel minibar. “Just one. I have can have one. I can replace just one bottle.” And then, pretty soon, you've got 20 down, a potential $200 charge on your hotel bill, and you're yelling at a liquor store clerk for something to replace a bottle whose size falls halfway between a Fifth and what a flight attendant would serve.
Unfortunately, century-old whiskey is not as replaceable. And then there's this kicker to the whole story: “During the hearing Wednesday, Saunders' attorney noted to the court that Saunders is now awaiting a liver transplant.” Never saw that one coming.