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Are prosecutors trying to keep innocent man on death row? Part I

Some of our recent posts have been focused on the importance of hard evidence when attempting to convict someone on criminal charges. Over the last few years, improvements in Wisconsin's criminal DNA database and the heroic efforts of groups like the Innocence Project have contributed to the exoneration of many individuals who were wrongly convicted of serious crimes like rape and murder.

At present and for the foreseeable future, DNA is the gold standard of evidence. If other evidence from a trial is correctly preserved, modern DNA testing can potentially prove a defendant's innocence decades after a conviction. Unfortunately, DNA evidence is not very effective if prosecutors intentionally try to subvert justice and delay or stop the appeals process.

A recent article in the Huffington Post tells the riveting story of a convicted man who has had to battle prosecutors for more than a decade just for the chance to have the DNA evidence in his case retested. Earlier this month, prosecutors finally relented.

The Texas man was convicted on charges stemming from a triple homicide on New Year's Eve in 1993. He did not dispute that he had been in the home at the time of the murders. However, he claims (and much evidence corroborates) that he had passed out prior to the killings due to his consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Nonetheless, he was convicted and sentenced to death. He has been trying in earnest since 2001 to have the DNA evidence retested. But prosecutors have been furiously fighting to stop that from happening. What were they afraid to find out?

Check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: Huffington Post, "Texas Finally Agrees to DNA Testing for Condemned Man. What Took So Long?" David Protess, June 4, 2012

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