News 08.16.11

Judge Denies Kentucky Prisoner’s Request for DNA Testing

A Kentucky judge ruled on Friday that a man in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit doesn’t have access to DNA tests that could potentially prove his innocence. The judge reversed his previous order for post-conviction testing after the Commonwealth’s Attorney argued that the state’s DNA testing law only applies to death row inmates. William Virgil was convicted of a 1987 rape and murder and sentenced to 70 years behind bars.

According to The Kentucky Enquirer, Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said it was a legal issue not to allow testing and that she was following the law. Virgil’s attorney at the Kentucky Innocence Project, Linda A. Smith disagrees.

“The Department of Public Advocacy’s Kentucky Innocence Project maintains that all courts have the inherent power to find the truth,” Smith said. “If Kentucky courts do not have that power, obviously the law must change. The first value of our justice system cannot be merely finality, it must be to seek and do justice. The truth should not be threatening to anyone in the criminal justice system and truth is what Mr. Virgil is seeking.”

Smith had  requested DNA testing of the rape kit, the victim’s semen-stained nightgown, an ashtray, cigarette butt and matchbook found by the victim’s shower, among other items.


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National View:

What’s the DNA Access Law in your state

Read more about access to DNA testing. http://www.innocenceproject.org/fix/DNA-Testing-Access.php

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