Kentucky Prisoners Fight for DNA Testing


Two Kentucky prisoners will go before the state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking DNA testing on evidence from a 1992 murder. Kentucky law allows post-conviction DNA testing only for death row prisoners. Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway, is blocking testing in the case even though it could be performed at no cost to the state.


Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey D. Clark were convicted of murdering Rhonda Sue Warford two decades ago and say DNA evidence found on the victim—hairs and fingernail scrapings—will point to another man. The Courier-Journal quotes Innocence Project Staff Attorney Jason Kreag:

“If this was a cold case, or a new case, the first thing police would do today is DNA tests of all this physical evidence,” Kreag said.

Although Kentucky does not have statewide legislation allowing post-conviction DNA testing for all inmates, Jefferson County does. Jefferson’s Commonwealth Attorney Dave Stengel has instituted a policy of allowing the testing as long as it is “relevant” to the case and the petitioner pays for it. Stengel says his policy should be adopted statewide, which would ultimately concede testing for Hardin and Clark. Every state but Oklahoma has some form of post-conviction DNA testing access law, but many states—like Kentucky—impose unnecessary restrictions.


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