Philadelphia prosecutors filed papers in May arguing that Anthony Wright, who was convicted of murder in 1993, should not have access to DNA testing because he confessed to the crime. In these papers they cited the case of Byron Halsey, saying testing in Halsey's case was “properly denied where trial evidence, which included defendant’s confession, was overwhelming.”
The flaws in the state's argument in the Wright case became clear yesterday afternoon, when New Jersey prosecutors exonerated Halsey after DNA testing conducted in 2006 showed that another man committed the child murders for which Halsey had nearly been sentenced to death. Read more about the Halsey case here.
This morning, a Philadelphia appeals court will hear arguments in Wright's case. Prosecutors have argued for two years that Wright should be denied access to testing because he allegedly confessed to the crime. However, as Innocence Project Staff Attorney Nina Morrison will argue this morning, 25% of the 205 people exonerated by DNA testing in the United States — including Halsey — falsely confessed or admitted to the crimes of which they were wrongfully convicted.
The arguments are scheduled for 10:30 this morning at the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Read more about Wright 's case in
yesterday's Innocence Project press release
A column by Elmer Smith in today's Philadelphia Daily News calls for the District Attorney's office to support testing in the pursuit of true justice:
The D.A.'s office is vigorously opposing new DNA testing. I want to believe it is fighting to keep DNA evidence out in the interest of justice.
Except that, for the life of me, I can't see how justice is served by suppressing a test result that could point to another perpetrator.
If Louise Talley's murderer is still out there, I want my D.A.'s office to go after him with the same fervor that led to Anthony Wright's conviction.
Instead, the D.A.'s office seems more interested in holding onto Wright than it is in being absolutely sure the crime is solved. That worries me.
Read the full column here
. (Philadelphia Daily News, 07/10/07)