An Austin judge told prosecutors on Tuesday that they had 72 hours to hand over DNA test results in the infamous 1991 “yogurt shop murders” case for which two men say they are wrongfully imprisoned. The results could help identify the actual perpetrator(s) in the crimes.
Prosecutors said they were waiting for a full report before handing over the evidence, but defense attorneys are seeking access to the test results sooner, saying they deserve to know immediately whose DNA was found on new tests of evidence from the crime scene. Prosecutors have said that the two defendants – Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen – could not be the source of the DNA, and two other men formerly arrested and released have also been excluded.
Both men were convicted in 1999 after they allegedly confessed (they now say the confessions were coerced) – Springsteen was sentenced to death and Scott to life. Springsteen’s death sentence was commuted after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that defendants 17-year-old and younger couldn’t be executed. Springsteen’s conviction was thrown out by an appeals court in 2006 and Scott’s was tossed in 2007.
Springsteen’s attorney, Joe James Sawyer, blasted the state after the pretrial hearing for not letting the public know whose DNA was identified in the testing. “The silence is deafening,” Sawyer said.
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. (Associated Press, 07/15/08)