DA: No DNA tests needed in Wis. homicide cases – San Jose Mercury News

Posted: July 12, 2011 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

By CARRIE ANTLFINGER

MILWAUKEE—A review of 2,100 Milwaukee County homicide convictions from the past two decades did not find a single case in which DNA testing would be warranted to ensure that an innocent person wasn’t sent to prison, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office said Friday.

The review began last June after three people charged or convicted in homicides were exonerated when DNA testing linked the victims in their cases to a serial killer. The findings of the review shocked attorneys for the Wisconsin Innocence Project and for one of the exonerated men.

“While we were encouraged by and commended by the DA’s office for undertaking this initiative and for their stated commitment to identifying individuals wrongly convicted, we were really surprised and disappointed by the conclusion that no cases warrant DNA testing,” the project’s co-director Keith Findley said.

District Attorney John Chisholm said those who conducted the review—a senior assistant district attorney, three interns, a paralegal and multiple victim advocates—whittled it down by first looking at cases in which convicts maintained their innocence and where there was evidence that could be genetically tested.

“We’ve invested an enormous amount of time and energy into following this protocol and we are just confident to the best of our ability that there are no … cases that would prompt us to seek additional DNA testing,” Chisholm said.

On the second round, Assistant

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District Attorney Steven Licata examined the complete files of 486 cases, from which 60 were forwarded for additional review by Assistant District Attorney Norman Gahn, a DNA expert, and other members of the committee.

The review was “predicated on the legal presumption in the validity of the past conviction, not a search for doubt,” he said. Special attention was given to cases where someone maintained innocence or sought help with the court or another entity like the Innocence Project, according to the review’s findings.

Attorney Jon Loevy, whose client William Avery is one of the three exonerated men, said the district attorney’s office’s decision not to review DNA evidence in a single case is “impossible to understand.” Avery served five years in prison for the strangling death of Maryetta Griffin before being released last year.

“Why is the prosecutor’s office so afraid of DNA testing? What harm is done by testing evidence that could yield a definitive scientific truth about guilt or innocence? In my opinion, they are afraid of that truth,” he said.

via DA: No DNA tests needed in Wis. homicide cases – San Jose Mercury News.

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