News 01.02.08

Testing granted in Florida death row case

A Florida judge recently granted DNA testing in the case of Innocence Project client Samuel Jason Derrick, who has served nearly two decades on Florida’s death row for a murder he says he didn’t commit. Derrick says he falsely confessed to detectives investigating the crime because they threatened to put his infant son in foster care.

Derrick was convicted of stabbing a convenience store owner in an apparent robbery in 1987. In December, a judge approved advanced DNA testing on a bloody remnant of a white T-shirt, a partially eaten hot dog, blood found under a picnic table and scrapings from the victim's fingernails.

The fingernail scrapings were tested in 2002 but gleaned no DNA profiles, the defense motion said. But they could still yield something to a more sensitive DNA test called Y-STR now available, according to the defense motion, that "targets genetic markers found on the Y-chromosome, which only males possess."

"It's really vital that we use Y-STR or one of the really cutting- edge tests that have been developed," said Alba Morales, Derrick's Innocence Project attorney. "Because it really improves the chance of getting a result from what is by now a fairly degraded sample."


Read the full story here

. (St. Petersburg Times, 12/28/2007)

The Innocence Project wants the testing on the evidence be conducted at a private lab specializing in Y-STR and mini-STR DNA technology. These two kinds of advanced DNA testing may be able to show whether Derrick is innocent – and private labs have expertise and experience in this area that the Florida state labs do not.

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