Overturning a lower court’s ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided yesterday that Rudolph Powers should have access to the DNA testing that could prove his innocence.
Powers, an Innocence Project client, has spent 30 years behind bars for a two rapes he has always said he didn’t commit. He is seeking to conduct DNA testing on a rape kit from one of the two cases. Prosecutors had argued that even DNA results excluding Powers wouldn’t prove innocence because the evidence could have come from a consensual sexual partner of the victim. Lower courts agreed with prosecutors, but the state Supreme Court overturned their rulings, finding that DNA results linking the semen to someone else would cast major doubts on Powers’ conviction.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Powers has had to fight so long for access to this testing, but this decision sends a very clear message that DNA testing should be granted under the state statute when it might be probative,” Innocence Project Staff Attorney Craig Cooley said. “This will be a huge help to other people in Tennessee prisons who are seeking to prove their innocence through DNA.”
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