More than a year after a West Virginia man filed petitions for release with help from West Virginia Public Defenders and the
West Virginia Innocence Project
, a judge ruled in favor of new DNA testing. Joseph Lavigne, Jr. was convicted in 1996 of raping his then 5-year-old daughter and has been seeking to be released from prison ever since.
The Charleston Gazette reported that although Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder denied Lavigne’s request for a new trial, he did grant the request to allow testing of evidence that has either never been DNA tested before or hasn’t been tested with current methods. Among the evidence to be testing are hairs collected during Lavigne’s daughter’s examination, towels and washcloths gathered from Lavigne’s home and swabs taken as part of a rape kit.
While Lavigne believes his daughter was attacked, he adamantly denies that he was the perpetrator — a sentiment the victim herself has publicly echoed.
Lavigne’s motion stipulates that if a male DNA profile is yielded from testing that it can be entered into the nationwide (Combined DNA Index System) database to determine whether it’s a match with a convicted felons’ profile already in the database.
Lavigne is currently serving a jail sentence of 22 to 60 years. His first parole hearing is scheduled for September 2017.