A New Jersey judge said today that he would order police to conduct a thorough search for evidence connected to the case of Stephen Brooks, an Innocence Project client who has been in prison for more than 20 years for a rape he says he didn’t commit. Brooks is seeking DNA testing that could prove his innocence.
Prosecutors have repeatedly told Brooks that evidence collected from the crime scene has been lost or destroyed, but the Innocence Project argued at a hearing today in Newark that a thorough search has not been conducted or documented. Judge Jerome St. John agreed to order the search, saying his order was a starting point and that he may order additional evidence searches in the case. The Innocence Project said the development is a good first step.
An editorial in today’s Star Ledger called for the evidence search, and for better evidence handling procedures in New Jersey. “New Jersey law allows a prisoner access to DNA testing whenever that evidence becomes available,” the editorial said. “Until it's located in Brooks' case, his guilt or innocence remains a mystery. That's not just sloppy record keeping, that's sloppy justice.”
More news coverage: