News 04.30.10

Friday Roundup: Following (and Sometimes Ignoring) DNA Evidence


Clark County, Washington, prosecutors are pursuing charges against two men whose rape convictions were vacated last week by a judge

. The prosecutors say that vacating a sentence isn’t the same as being acquitted by a jury.  Last week, the Superior Court Judge reversed the convictions of Alan G. Northrop and Larry W. Davis on the basis of new DNA testing unavailable at the time of the crime.  The testing was requested by the Innocence Project Northwest.  Their convictions were based on the victim’s eyewitness identification.  A new trial is set for July 19.

An Ohio judge ruled that

a section of state law where former inmates can be found “wrongfully incarcerated” as a result of legal procedural errors is unconstitutional

.  Director of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati Mark Godsey said he didn’t think it would affect any of his clients since their cases are all based on claims of actual innocence (rather than procedural errors). Since 2003, North Carolina has had a statute requiring anyone convicted of a felony to submit a DNA sample for a statewide database.

A pending bill would expand that to collecting samples from anyone charged with a felony despite the result of their cases

. The bill is supported by the Attorney General, but is opposed by the ACLU who says it is an invasion of privacy.  They argue it is waste of money to log DNA in labs that are already backlogged. 


Just a few hours after an Oregon suspect provided a DNA sample, he committed suicide

.  The man was suspected of murdering a young woman over 30 years ago and went undetected all that time until the police recently received a tip.  His DNA matched a sample from the victim’s clothing.

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