Former FBI Director William Sessions joined the Constitution Project and other legal leaders today in calling for the Florida Supreme Court to order a DNA database search that could prove the innocence of a man on death row.
Earlier this month, the Innocence Project filed a petition on behalf of death row prisoner Paul Hildwin, seeking to have unidentified evidence from the scene of a 25-year-old murder entered into a national DNA database.
Prosecutors have gone to “enormous lengths” to block the search. Hildwin has been on death row since 1986 for a murder he says he didn’t commit. DNA test results have shown that he was not the man whose semen and saliva were found on key items at the crime scene, and a database check could point to the real perpetrator. In filing a friend-of-the-court brief today, Sessions and the Constitution Project were joined by Harry L. Shorstein, a former Florida State Attorney, and Sandy D’Alemberte, past president of the American Bar Association and former dean of Florida State University College of Law. As Director of the FBI during the time DNA testing was first used in American courts, Sessions oversaw the creation of the FBI’s first DNA laboratory and the development of the national DNA database, known as CODIS.
Today’s friend-of-the-court brief states in part:”The prosecution continues to oppose Hildwin’s request to compare the DNA evidence against the profiles in the CODIS and FDLE databanks without any credible legal basis. Such opposition is an obstacle to the search for truth and simply cannot be tolerated.”