Colorado lawmakers support new trials after evidence is lost


A new bill in the Colorado state legislature would grant a new trial to inmates whose evidence is destroyed despite a court order to preserve it. Clarence Moses-El has been in prison for two decades for a 1987 Denver rape he says he didn’t commit. In 1995, a court ordered DNA testing in his case, but before any testing took place the Denver police destroyed the evidence – which consisted of clothing and swabbings from the victim.

The bill was introduced Wednesday and has been signed by 82 of 100 lawmakers, making it appear likely that it will be approved.

"You don't throw away people's lives accidentally," said Sen. John Morse, D-Fountain, a former police chief who signed on as a sponsor of the measure. "Clearly, some in the criminal-justice system will say he (Moses-EL) had his day in court, but we don't know whether we found the truth. I believe you must have truth to win justice."

Said State Rep. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge: "When there is a wrong, there needs to be a right."

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon authored the bill after weeks of researching the case. No physical evidence tied Moses-EL to the crime, but the victim, who testified that she saw the rapist's face twice and heard his voice as he attacked her, awoke in the hospital and said she realized while dreaming that the rapist was her neighbor, Moses-EL. She later identified him in court.

… State Rep. Steve King, R-Delta, another primary sponsor and a veteran police investigator, said: "DNA is a new-age tool for justice. We need to move toward giving that law-enforcement tool respect."

Read the full story here

. (Denver Post, 03/13/08)

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